Cosmopolitan but peaceful, inner-city apartment living doesn’t get more appealing than the coveted Rockley apartment building at 65 Elizabeth Bay Road.

The Rockley has the best of both worlds: a stellar Elizabeth Bay Road address and stunning harbour views that also take in Rushcutters Bay Park. But did you know this Rockley is actually the third building of the same name to grace Elizabeth Bay Road in the past hundred years?

The original Rockley

It’s unclear exactly where the name Rockley comes from, but it is also the name of a small town (population 178) near Bathurst, now famous for having a pub run by chef Matt Moran. The town of Rockley was founded in 1848 to service a nearby copper mine and was named by Captain Watson Augustus Steel after his birthplace in Rockley in Wiltshire, England.

The original Rockley was built around the same time – in the mid-1800s – on land subdivided from the Elizabeth Bay House estate. It was a stone mansion, like its neighbours, “Ercildoune” and “Eastbourne” (both since demolished), and was known for its extensive views from East to West.

Rockley passed through several families and had many residents over its lifetime. In 1873, the wife of G Russell delivered a son there, while in 1876, a birth notice appeared in a newspaper for the daughter of Mrs Caldwell of Rockley. In 1878, a Mr Hurley is mentioned alongside Rockley in a news report about an investigation into a typhoid outbreak in Elizabeth Bay.

In 1882, the property was occupied by Mr Halle, who hosted his daughter’s wedding party there after a service at nearby St John’s.

By 1903 Mr E R Deas-Thompson was listed as living at Rockley in a death notice about his sister, Lady Macleay, who passed away at nearby Elizabeth Bay House. He was still there four years later when a burglary at the home was reported.

In 1927, a Monte Carlo Fete and also a ball for 400 people was held in aid of the “Limbless Soldiers’ Association” at Rockley, then owned by Mrs Guy Boucher.

A second Rockley

By mid-1927, Rockley House and its extensive grounds were being subdivided into seven blocks: four battleaxe waterfront blocks, with three street frontage blocks on Elizabeth Bay Road. The subdivision map shows lot 4, the battleaxe closest to Rushcutters Bay Park, as the likely position of the Rockley building today, while the original house of the same name stood on lot 2.

A news report on the sale reveals that the block with the house sold for £10,000. Lot 4 was passed in at the auction at £86 per foot but was subsequently under offer.

Just a few years later, the City of Sydney archives contain stunningly drawn plans for a “bungalow” on lot 4, which was then known as number 67 Elizabeth Bay Road. The architects were Gordon McKinnon and Son, and the elaborate Art Deco plans show that the house was named “Rockley.” The plans were approved in 1932.

Meanwhile, the original stone mansion Rockley was demolished to make way for an Art Deco block of apartments, Adereham Hall, at number 71 Elizabeth Bay Road. Also known locally as “Gotham City” thanks to its distinctive nine-storey facade, Adereham Hall was similarly designed by McKinnon and Sons and built in 1934. Speculation is that the old fig tree that still stands in the garden dates back to Alexander Macleay’s original garden for Elizabeth Bay House, which was later part of the original Rockley garden.

A fabulous black and white photo from 1939 shows children playing at Rushcutters Bay, with a house and grounds identified as Rockley (which by this point may have been rebuilt) on the left. However, the turret on the house doesn’t quite match the plans of the house.

The third Rockley

The City of Sydney archives from 1970 contain the “proposed subdivision under the Conveyancing (Strata Titles) Act” (ie: the strata plan) for the mid-century modern apartments we know today as the third incarnation of Rockley.

The following year, properties along the street were officially renumbered: 63/65 “Cheddington” (previously 63/65) became number 63, “Rockley” (previously 67) became 65, and “Ulverstone” became number 65A – no doubt confusing postal workers for a while.

The Rockley apartment building is discretely invisible from the street. With rooftop parking, the apartments beneath capitalise on its harbourside views and park outlook.

Today, Domain has the tenure at 65 Elizabeth Bay Road as 80% owner-occupied, with the average owner living in Rockley for nine years and eight months. Many have spent over a decade in this coveted address.

Recent listings in Rockley

Apartment 2/65 Elizabeth Bay Road in Rockley has recently come onto the market. Its generous 141 square metre layout featured three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and parking, with two balconies to take in the stunning views over the harbour and park towards Rushcutters Bay.

Picture-perfect for relaxed Elizabeth Bay living, this designer residence is a meticulously renovated sanctuary completed by Michael Allsopp Design.

It is currently on the market with a price guide of over $3.4 million.

Want more?

If you’re looking to buy or sell in Elizabeth Bay, Potts Point or Sydney’s East, 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…