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Save Dulwich Hill’s heritage icons

Urban renewal plans released by the NSW Government for the Dulwich Hill area as part of the Sydenham to Bankstown corridor have revealed just how many individual heritage icons in the suburb are under threat.


These local landmarks are not covered by any statutory heritage protection, but have been voluntarily protected  by landowners for many decades.  

At the bottom of the page, local residents can nominate other local icons which have no existing protection and are under threat.

Dulwich Hill Baptist Church

According to its official history, the Dulwich Hill Baptist Church on Macarthur Parade was erected in 1925. It replaced a previous smaller church building to help accommodate the church’s growing congregation.

The church was described as “a credit to all concerned, a noble edifice, ready to be dedicated to the highest and most sacred use” which “in beauty, solidity and commodiousness, will bear favourable comparison with any similar building in the State”.  The church included seven memorial windows, of which four were in memory of soldiers who had died in World War I.


The church was designed by architect Walter Leslie, who also designed St Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral group at South Dowling St, Paddington. This Cathedral group is listed as a State heritage item on the basis that the buildings are “fine examples of religious buildings designed during the Inter-war period”. 


The Dulwich Hill Baptist Church has a distinctive and highly detailed window and brick face to Macarthur Parade, with no less than 16 windows facing the street. It can rightly be called a local landmark. It now has a strong Romanian congregation.


The church does not have any heritage protection.

Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Unmercenaries

One of Dulwich Hill’s most distinctive buildings is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Unmercenaries in Hercules St, which is thought to be around 40 years old and was hand-built by the area’s local Greek population. It has pretty blue-topped belltower.

This church represents the only Sydney diocese of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece. This church severed communion with the main Greek Orthodox Church in 1935 over the acceptance of a revised calendar by the main church.

The building is at risk of being demolished, severing a piece of cultural heritage from the area. Some meetings of property developers trying to amalgamate land in the area have taken place in the church.

It is unknown what decision the church congregation has taken in regard to the church.

Home on the corner of The Parade and Terrace Rd

There’s a grand Federation home on the corner of The Parade and Terrace Rd. The home is something of a local landmark, being on an elevated corner. The home appears to be well-preserved with an original slate roof and intact wraparound front balcony. 


The home has an interesting background in that there are many references to it being used as a private maternity hospital – known as Nurse Gee’s hospital – in the 1920s and 1930s. This illustrates the rich history of the Dulwich Hill area. By the 1950s, there are newspaper references to it being a private residence.


This home has no formal heritage protection

Macarthur Parade grand homes

In 1914, the estate of the Sefton Hall mansion at Macarthur Parade, Dulwich Hill, was subdivided with covenants placed on the large lots to ensure only substantial new homes worth more than 500 pounds could be constructed.

In 1917, the first of the six substantial, Californian bungalows were constructed. Today, four of these homes stand side-by-side in pristine, original condition. Their impressive style is unique in Dulwich Hill. They share the block with the tallest building in the street, the historic Baptist Church.

Sadly, these four splendid bungalows have no formal heritage protection.

John Thomas Ness (1871-1947), an influential figure with important historical associations resided at Number 11, ‘Valcourt’, from 1934 until his death in 1947 (pictured right). He moved to Dulwich Hill in 1904 and was an active resident, businessman and politician.

Mr Ness established John Ness & Co, estate agents and auctioneers (which is still operating). He was an alderman and three-time mayor of Marrickville Council, along with being the NSW MP for Western Suburbs from 1922-1927 and for Dulwich Hill from 1927-1930 and 1932-1938.

To top it off, he was also president of the Dulwich Hill P&C, a Saturday half-holiday advocate and the ex-officio chairman of the local recruiting committee for World War I.

After his father’s death, William John Ness resided at 11 Macarthur Pde. He was an alderman on Marrickville Council from 1934 to 1945.


Long-nosed bandicoot

Dulwich Hill is home to one of two endangered colonies of native long-nosed bandicoots in Sydney (the other colony being at North Head on Sydney’s northern beaches). The urban renewal plans could have a devastating impact on these bandicoots, which are thought to live in and near the light rail corridor. This is because a key part of their habitat – backyards and the area under old homes – is likely to be redeveloped. 


Although there is some local planning rules are in place to help protect these bandicoots, the urban renewal strategy is likely to over-rule these. The urban renewal strategy released in October 2015 at no stage referred to the local population of bandicoots.


There is the opportunity to remedy this by making the existing mapped bandicoot habitat as a local or State heritage item. There is a precedent for this, with a number of other local government areas mapping habitat as a heritage item.


For instance, Tweed Shire Council has heritage-listed nest sites of the highly endangered osprey bird. Ryde City Council has heritage-listed the Field of Mars wildlife reserve, while the NSW Government has also placed high conservation old-growth forests on the State heritage list.

Dulwich Hill Uniting Church

The Dulwich Hill Uniting Church in Constitution Rd was opened by local MP John Ness (who house is featured above) in 1929. It currently has a Pacific Islander congregation. It makes an important contribution to the local streetscape.

The church has no formal heritage protection.

Please nominate other local icons for our list, that you think are under threat. Please tell us as much as you can about the icon, including if you know whether any famous people lived in the house and other unique details about it.

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