Wolli Creek, NSW 2205, is a suburb in southern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It sits beside the Wolli Creek and Cooks River waterways. Wolli Creek is situated between the suburbs of Arncliffe and Tempe, 10 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Rockdale and is part of the St George area.
Wolli Creek was named after the Koori name of adjacent creek running into Cook’s River though the northern border of the original Turrella settlement. Wolli creek was first known as Woolly Creek, probably after the weeds in the water that gave it a thick appearance. The meaning of Wolli Creek is “Camp”.
The Wolli Creek suburb was previously part of Arncliffe. Reuben Hannam was granted land in 1825 on the banks of Cooks river. Alexander Brodie Spark purchased land in 1826 and built Tempe house in 1836. It was named after ‘Vale of Tempe’, a beautiful valley in ancient Greek legend set at the foot of Mount Olympus. Tempe House, designed by John Verge, has a Georgian feel and is regarded as one of the great houses of Sydney.
Philanthropist Caroline Chisholm leased Tempe House as a boarding school for young women (1863–1865). The estate was known as Greenbank during this time and presented an ideal location for Chisholm’s work. She remarked on the spacious and lofty rooms and the ‘fine large and open orchard of fruit trees, intersected by wide and shady walks’.
In 1884 the estate was sold to the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for use as a charitable refuge for women. The Sisters added the impressive St Magdalen’s Chapel (1888), which is believed to be the work of Sheerin & Hennessy, an important firm of Sydney architects, who designed the Archbishop’s Residence and St Patrick’s College at Manly. The neo-Gothic style Chapel is of major cultural significance. It is now deconsecrated and has been restored as part of the Discovery Point redevelopment. Tempe House is now listed on the Register of the National Estate.
The area became predominantly industrial until a redevelopment was planned in the late 1990s. The new suburb was to be called North Arncliffe, but residents in the area petitioned the council to conduct a vote to select a better name. Wolli Creek was the most popular choice. Wolli Creek railway station opened in 2000. Wolli Creek was officially declared a suburb in 2002.
Wolli Creek is transforming from a predominately industrial precinct into a high quality, high density urban environment for living, working and recreation. In the future Wolli Creek will be a vital community of some 15,700 residents and 3,000 workers.