Onslow Avenue is a stunning address to call home: A tree-lined avenue with harbour views and great access to everything on offer in our area.

Join me on a walk to find out more about the secrets of Onslow Avenue…

The origins of Onslow Avenue

Onslow Avenue sits within the original 52 acres of land that Governor Ralph Darling granted to colonial secretary Alexander McLeay in 1826. In 1834, McLeay built his stately home, Elizabeth Bay House, on that land. It still stands today.

Onslow is a name closely associated with McLeay. Arthur Pooley Onslow (of the East India Co) married MacLeay’s daughter, Rosa Roberta. Their son, Arthur Alexander Walton Onslow, was born in India in 1833. He arrived in Sydney in 1838 and lived with his grandfather, Alexander McLeay, for several years before being sent to the UK for his education.

Arthur Alexander Onslow went on to carve out a career as a British naval officer, seeing action in the Crimean War. He eventually returned to New South Wales, married Elizabeth Macarthur (the only child of pastoralist and politician James Macarthur, who eventually inherited almost all of the extensive Macarthur estates) and entered politics himself. Unfortunately, however, AA Onslow didn’t get to enjoy any of his wife’s fortune. He died of paralysis in 1882 when he was just 48 years old.

An subdivision map of “Macleay’s Estate” produced the same year as Onslow’s death shows the beginnings of Onslow Avenue. It was then called Onslow Lane and only extended as far as Elizabeth Bay House, marked as being owned by the “Hon W. Macleay”.

By the early 1890s, one of Onslow’s sons, James William Macarthur Onslow, owned Elizabeth Bay House, having inherited it from his great-uncle Sir William Macleay. However, the once 54-acre estate had shrunk to 19 acres thanks to successive subdivisions.

In 1927, a final subdivision of “The Elizabeth Bay House Estate” completed the new road: Onslow Avenue, with Onslow Lane running behind the house. Unfortunately, however, the Depression intervened during the sales campaign, and not all lots were sold.

Arthur McElhone Reserve

Known by the locals as “Fishpond Park”, Arthur McElhone Reserve was designed by Latvian landscape architect Ilmar Berzins. Berzins was a council employee and reputedly the first formally trained landscape architect in Australia.

The park was created from lots that didn’t sell from the 1927 subdivision. The council acquired these in 1948 and named the park in 1950 after Arthur McElhone, a local alderman who served for 44 years.

The reserve features an ornamental lake with a stone bridge, providing panoramic views down to the heads of Sydney Harbour. With tropical plant life and beautifully maintained gardens, the reserve is a popular spot for photography and intimate garden weddings.

1 Onslow Avenue

Home to unique architectural apartments that include “winter gardens”, we sold 3/1 Onslow Avenue, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment in this boutique contemporary block in 2018, for $5.25 million and more recently the penthouse for $20 million.

St Ursula: 5 Onslow Avenue

St Ursula’s was designed by modernist architect Hugo Stossel. The development was constructed in 1951 and is still highly coveted for its design and light and bright interiors.

The building was featured in an article in Building and Construction in the year it was built:

“These flats will represent the latest practice both in planning and construction.
The building will be -of reinforced concrete on a steel-framed structure, with curtain walls of 11in. Cavity brickwork… The construction work on these home units is being carried out by the North Sydney building firm of R. H. Andrews and Co… This ultra-modern home-unit block was designed by Mr. H. Stossel, A.R.A.I.A., and is now in the course of erection in Onslow Avenue, Elizabeth Bay. Its architecture is graceful and its appearance pleasing, both inside and out… Showing how skilfully the flats have been fitted into place. All rooms are outside rooms with ample light and air from either of two street frontages.”

Belltrees: 6 Onslow Avenue

Belltrees may have a character-filled Art Deco facade, but inside this exclusive security building are four completely reinvented whole-floor contemporary residences. Designed by Dennis Rabinowitz of the award-winning architects MPR Design Group, each residence boasts impressive north-facing harbour views.

Elizabeth Bay House: 7 Onslow Avenue

Surrounded by its own manicured gardens featuring a tranquil koi pond, the construction of Elizabeth Bay House began in 1834. Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay transformed his 54 acres of land into one of the finest residences built in the colonial era. The house was eventually divided into flats. However, in 1977, it was restored to its original grandeur and glory by the National Trust. Today, Sydney Living Museums runs guided and self-guided tours of the house.

Huntingdon: 8 Onslow Avenue

Another Art Deco gem with fabulous red decorative brickwork, the Huntingdon Building at number 8 offers classic, character-filled apartments and amazing views.

Vanessa Lodge: 10 Onslow Avenue

Vanessa Lodge is a tightly-held apartment complex built in 1975. But plans are afoot for its compulsory acquisition and redevelopment. Relatively new legislation allows the entire strata schemes to be redeveloped by developers if 75% of owners agree (subject to valuations ruled on by the NSW Land & Environment Court). The plan is part of a wave of redevelopments to hit our area, and reports are that the new development would take advantage of the dual street frontage from Vanessa Lodge 10 Onslow Avenue through to The Eliza at 21C Billyard Avenue.

Darnley Hall: 12 Onslow Avenue

The gracious Darnley Hall at number 12 is hard to miss, with its distinctive neo-Georgian façade. Designed in the 1920s by architects Sir Charles Rosenthal and Harry Cooper Day, it is now listed on the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAiA) register of 20th-century buildings in Australia. The two-storey, five-bedroom penthouse is built around the original ballroom. We sold it in 2019 for $9.75 million.

Tradewinds: 14-16 Onslow Avenue

This 1970s apartment complex, Tradewinds, at 14-16 Onslow Avenue, offers stunning views, capitalising on the dress circle location. It is also known for its large Jacaranda tree. The City of Sydney Council considers it a “significant tree” and describes it as a “magnificent specimen”:

“This mature Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) has local significance as an individual tree with aesthetic, visual, historic and social values. It creates a memorable sense of place, reducing the size and scale of adjoining apartment blocks with its massive branches extending over the roadway. It is likely to be an integral element of the original Macleay’s Elizabeth Bay House estate.”

Elizabeth Bay Gardens: 15-19 Onslow Avenue

We recently sold a fabulous three-bedroom apartment in mid-century Elizabeth Bay Gardens, renowned for its pool, garden, and harbour views. Apartment 12J had been tightly held by the same family since it was built.

Westchester: 24-26 Onslow Avenue

Westchester defines Art Deco elegance, with its imposing brick facade rising six storeys above Onslow Avenue. It has 33 apartments and a gorgeous common garden area. You can see the building application and “blueprint” plans dated 1938 for a “Miss M Williams”, Onslow Avenue Elizabeth Bay” by Crane & Scott architects of Park Street, in the City of Sydney Archives.

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If you’re looking to buy or sell in Potts Point or Elizabeth Bay, contact my team today.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…