History of Hunters Hill

Hunters Hill Town Hall in 1960

The Municipality of Hunters Hill has a wonderfully rich and diverse history, which precedes Federation and the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.

Hunters Hill is a leafy sandstone peninsula, stretching from Pittwater Road to Onions Point at the convergence of the Lane Cove into the Parramatta Rivers. The Aboriginal name for the land is Moocooboola, meaning meeting of waters.

Early French settlers, including the Joubert brothers and Gabriel de Milhau, were influential in gaining the proclamation of Hunters Hill as a separate Borough in 1861 and much of the character of the Municipality has developed since that time.

The Municipality includes the leafy suburbs of Gladesville, Henley, Hunters Hill, Huntleys Cove, Huntleys Point and Woolwich. With more than 70% of the Municipality declared a conservation area, it's easy to see why the area is recognised as Australia’s oldest garden suburb.


The origin of the name has been the subject of debate. There is a romantic theory that the name is derived from Huntershill House, the family home near Edinburgh of Thomas Muir, one of the Scottish martyrs transported here in 1794 for sedition. A more likely source is Captain John Hunter, Commander of Sirius in the First Fleet and second Governor of the Colony. The hunting horn on the Hunter’s Hill Coat of Arms is taken from the Arms of John Hunter’s family.


Early French settlers were influential in gaining the proclamation of Hunter’s Hill as a separate Borough in January 1861, among them the brothers Joubert and the exiled Comte Gabriel de Milhau. 

Much of the character of the Municipality, as we know it, developed from that time until the years of World War I. Many of the buildings date back to that period and were constructed from local sandstone. These buildings, typical of development at that time, not only remain but refuse to be submerged by modern development.

Architecture and Heritage

The area possesses an interesting mix of architectural styles and building materials although locally quarried sandstone was favoured by our pioneers. The people are heritage conscious and about three quarters of the Municipality has been declared a conservation area. Ideally located between the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers, Hunters Hill is a great place to call home.

1978 Town Hall Fire

On 8 January 1978, a fire caused extensive damage to the Town Hall. Six Fire Brigades were called out to extinguish the fire, which virtually destroyed the Records room, Town Hall stage and roof. The Town Hall floor was badly damaged and the Council Chamber and Offices were affected by smoke and water. The only area to escape significant damage was the Historical Museum and the street facade. Council resolved to continue operations from the C.A Fairland Hall in Church Street for the duration of the disaster.


The suburb of Hunters Hill does not contain an apostrophe, however an apostrophe is used when referring to Hunter’s Hill Council.

For more information regarding the history of Hunters Hill by contact Hunters Hill Museum or Hunters Hill Trust.