Dictionary of Sydney

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The name Allawah comes from the local Aboriginal term for 'make your abode here' or 'remain here'. It is thought that the Aboriginal clan most prominent in the St George area, the Gameygal or Kameygal – the people of Kamay (Botany Bay), lived in and around the area now known as Allawah.

Allawah lies within the municipality of Kogarah and was originally part of Carlton and Hurstville. The suburb, which is sandwiched between the other two, was named after Allawah railway station opened on 23 October 1925.

Allawah extends from the railway line south to Blakesley Road near the site of Blake's quarry. A creek running between St Georges Parade and George Street forms the southern boundary. The area was previously known as Bellevue and on the site where Allawah railway station now stands there was previously only a wooden signal box bearing the name Bellevue. When Allawah station was built, many local residents wanted it called Bellevue, but they were overruled.

The first land grant

Although the township of Allawah did not really develop until after the opening of the railway station, the first land grant had been made more than 100 years earlier. Allawah formed part of a grant of 1950 acres (789 hectares) made to Captain John Townson by Major George Johnston after he had briefly deposed Governor Bligh in 1808. The land stood south of Hannah Laycock's King's Grove farm and became known as Townson's Farm. Later, when Townson complained that 300 acres (121 hectares) of this grant (in what was later to become Bexley, Carlton and Allawah) was 'so bad as to be completely useless', he was granted an additional 250 acres (101 hectares) to the north of his 1950 acres and to the west of Mrs Laycock's farm.

In 1808 Townson had also received 50 acres (20.2 hectares) at Kogarah Bay, where he lived in his property, The Retreat. Governor Macquarie visited him in December 1810. Macquarie found 'a neat, clean cottage ... a garden in excellent order and producing the largest and best strawberries'. [1] Townson took Macquarie and his party by water to see the farm he shared with his brother and while Macquarie noted in his journal that Dr Robert Townson's farm was in bad condition with 'no appearance whatever of any improvements', [2] he makes no mention of the condition of Townson's larger land grant. As Townson sold his Botany Bay land to Simeon Lord in 1812 and had been in ill health for some time it would appear that he did little to develop the larger grant.


For many years the area was also known locally as Struggletown. This was because in the early days of development, just before World War I, many of the people buying land there built houses of only one or two rooms. Many were British migrants who came to Australia in large numbers just before the outbreak of the war. One of these was Mark Gosling, who went on to represent the area in the New South Wales parliament and was chief secretary in Jack Lang's government of 1930–32. Another was Sir Ian Potter, a stockbroker, underwriter and company director who came from Britain with his parents in 1912 and attended Hurstville School.

The railway sparks a housing boom

The opening of the railway station in 1925 sparked a housing boom in the area. Estate agents gave subdivisions enticing names and people flocked to the suburb during this period. Modest California bungalows and single-storey Federation-style houses were built throughout the area.

The suburb's most notable example of interwar classical architecture is the Allawah Hotel. It was built in 1928 by Jack Shaw, who also built the Astra Hotel (then called the International) at Bondi the same year.

Shaw was born in Gorky, Russia, in 1884. The fourth child of nine in a deeply religious Jewish family, young Jack, appalled at the horror and fear engendered in his home by two pogroms, decided to emigrate. He changed his name from Jacob Woolf Shroog to Jack William Shaw when he came to Australia. When he heard of the railway station being built at Allawah he decided to erect a small hotel there, which he gave to his wife. The hotel was the site of the first Jewish services held in the Kogarah area. Shaw and his family were hit hard by the Depression and they were forced to move into the hotel, where his wife, Sara, worked in the bar. Their sons Harry and Raymond and daughter Lorraine also helped run it. Although Shaw's finances recovered somewhat after the Depression he never regained all of his former wealth.

Allawah's strongest growth period was between the two world wars and by 1976 some of the older residential areas had been re-zoned to allow unit development.

Today Allawah is still mainly a residential area, with few commercial or industrial developments. While most houses in Allawah South are California bungalows, the northern part of the suburb, near the railway line, has predominantly multi-unit buildings of more recent construction.


Pedr Davis, The Hurstville Story, Marque Publishing, Hurstville New South Wales, 1986

Jim Fletcher (ed), River, Road and Rail: a history of Kogarah Municipality, Kogarah Municipal Council, Kogarah New South Wales, 1985

Lorraine Havin, 'Bondi to Allawah' in Kogarah Historical Society Newsletter, July–August 1985, pp 6–7

Kogarah Council, 'Guide to localities in Kogarah LGA' in Better Home Design Guide, Kogarah Council, Kogarah New South Wales, 1999

Kogarah Library Local Studies Collection, vertical files

BJ Madden, The Background to the Townson grants, Hurstville Historical Society, Hurstville NSW, c1977

Niall Pettit-Young, 'Aborigines of the Hurstville district', unpublished typescript, 2005

Frank Weatherall, 'My early recollections of South Hurstville and Bellevue' in Kogarah Historical Society Newsletter, July 1974, pp 1–3


[1] Lachlan Macquarie, Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales: journals of his tours in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, 1810–1822, Trustees of the Public Library of NSW, Sydney, 1956

[2] Lachlan Macquarie, Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales: journals of his tours in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, 1810–1822, Trustees of the Public Library of NSW, Sydney, 1956