Historic ‘Coogee The Glorious’

Coogee has a brilliant and vibrant past that makes it the sort-after destination that it is today. Scroll to take a trip back in history…

The village of Coogee was officially founded on 12 October 1838 when the plan for the settlement was lodged at the New South Wales Colonial Secretary’s office. The village was established to prevent William Charles Wentworth from securing a large tract of the Sydney coastline, to add to his already substantial personal land holdings. The name ‘Coodgee’ is derived from a local indigenous word thought to mean, ‘rotting seaweed’ or ‘place of bad smells’.


In 1835 William Charles Wentworth bought 30 acres (approximately 12 hectares) at the head of Great Coogee Gully for £78. The land covered the area now known as Judge, Oswald and Dolphin streets and Carrington Road. It was Governor Richard Bourke who first ordered that the land on the shores of Coogee Bay should be laid out in 1837; a year later the village of Coogee was gazetted. The new village was allocated into acre sites that were offered for sale at the markets on George Street, Sydney, in February. Yet development was slow and by 1858 there were still only 14 houses in Coogee. 

By the 1920s, Coogee was marketed as “Australia’s most Beautiful Seaside Resort” and the first real estate brochures boasted “Coogee The Glorious”. The ‘villas’ and terraced gardens that the Daily Telegraph had imagined in 1887 were starting to characterise Coogee, giving it an Art Deco feel. It remained a popular and fashionable resort but was now a place of both residence and recreation.

Real Estate Brochure

Despite its relatively slow development, Coogee has many heritage-listed houses built in the nineteenth century and other buildings including the Coogee Bay Hotel. Remarkably, the hotel was originally built to be a private school in the 1860s. After a second story was added to the building around 1875, the school became a hotel with a long and lively reputation. Today the Coogee Bay Hotel remains a popular spot with locals, tourists and weekend visitors alike; perhaps reflecting the historical nature of Coogee itself.

Coogee Public School


A small suburban shopping centre flourished at the bottom of Belmore Road, now known as Coogee Bay Road. Coogee Public School opened in 1876 and by 1887 the Coogee Aquarium threw open its doors as an entertainment complex, covering an entire suburban block, at the northern end of Coogee Beach. 

Coogee Aquarium

In June 1945, a strong storm caused the large dome to collapse. In 1987 the Coogee Palace and Dome was re-built and converted into restaurants and bars. The former hotel on the premises was owned by investment banker David Kingston and was known both as The Beach Palace Hotel and The Aquarium. In August 2014 the building re-opened as the Coogee Pavilion in a $30 million+ renovation by the Merivale group, and its director Justin Hemmes.

Wylie’s Baths

Wylie’s Baths opened in 1907 by Henry Wylie, and still operate today beyond the southern extremity of Coogee Beach. The Baths were the training ground for Olympic Silver medallist Mina Wylie, the first Australasian woman to win a silver medal for swimming at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. They have been beautifully restored. The Coogee Surf Life Saving Club was established in 1907 on premises at the southern end of the beach.


Established in 1968, the Coogee Real Estate is the longest established real estate agency in Coogee. At the helm of the Coogee Real Estate since 1992, James Giltinan is a second generation real estate agent who grew up entrenched in the property industry. Carrying on the family tradition established by his father, James brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise with the past 30 years spent selling property in the Coogee/Clovelly district. With a strong presence in the area and a respected member of the community, James is committed to supporting local business and sporting clubs. The office is proud sponsor of the Coogee Surf Club and Coogee Seahorses Rugby Union Club.

Looking to live in this magical area, contact James and the team by clicking here

IMAGES: Coogee News / Dictionary of Sydney