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Willoughby City

About the area

Name origin

Willoughby is thought to be named after Sir James Willoughby Gordon, superior officer of Sir Thomas Mitchell.

Location and boundaries

Willoughby City is located in Sydney's northern suburbs - about 9 kilometres from the Sydney GPO. Willoughby City is bounded by the Ku-ring-gai Council area in the north, Middle Harbour in the east, the North Sydney and Lane Cove Council areas in the south and the City of Ryde in the west.

Included areas

Willoughby City includes the suburbs of Artarmon, Castle Cove, Castlecrag, Chatswood, Chatswood West, Lane Cove North (part), Middle Cove, Naremburn, Northbridge, North Willoughby, Roseville (part), St Leonards (part), Willoughby and Willoughby East.

Land use

Willoughby City is predominantly a residential area, but also has substantial industrial and commercial areas. Significant bushland areas are located along the Lane Cove River and the foreshore of Middle Harbour.


Willoughby City is served by the Gore Hill Freeway, the Pacific Highway and the North Shore railway line, with stations at Artarmon, Chatswood and St Leonards.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from 1794 when the first land grants were made, although little development occurred until the 1850s, following the gold rush era. Land was used mainly for timber getting, orchards, market gardens, dairies and farms, with some brick making, tanneries and stone quarrying. In the 1880s and 1890s residential subdivision and growth occurred, especially in Chatswood, aided by the opening of the North Shore railway line. The population of Willoughby City numbered nearly 4,000 by 1890. Much growth took place in the 1920s and 1930s, spurred by the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. By 1957 the population had grown to 52,000, and continued growing to nearly 55,000 in 1966. From the late 1960s the population gradually declined, falling to 51,000 by 1991. Most of this population decline was in the more established areas with separate dwellings, such as Castle Cove and Castlecrag. This decline has now been reversed, with growth in the City from the early 1990s. The population grew to over 67,000 in 2011, with the bulk of growth from 1996. Much of this expansion has been in areas where urban consolidation (medium and high density residential flats, apartments and townhouses) has occurred, such as Chatswood, Artarmon and St Leonards.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the Willoughby area were the Camaraigal Aboriginal people.

Regional labour force

Willoughby City labour force region is defined by an area in which a significant percentage of workers travelled into Willoughby City to work at the 2011 Census. Details of this calculation and a list of areas included can be found in the data notes.