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Willoughby City

About the area

Name origin

Willoughby City 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 Council area and the Lane Cove Council area 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.

Economic region
Willoughby City

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 encompasses a total land area of 23 square kilometres.


Willoughby City is served by the Gore Hill Freeway, the Pacific Highway and the North Shore railway line.

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 the suburb of 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 nearly 75,000 in 2016, 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 Willoughby City were the Camaraigal Aboriginal people.