Newington is a western suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is 16 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of City of Parramatta.
Newington is 2 km west of Wentworth Point, on the Parramatta River, and 1 km north-west of Sydney Olympic Park. It is best known as the location of the Athletes Village for the 2000 Summer Olympics and 2000 Summer Paralympics. The Athlete’s Village was converted to residential apartments after the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Other apartments and free-standing houses have also been built since. A reserve opposite Newington Marketplace memorial features a complete roster of the Australian team at the 2000 Summer Olympics and 2000 Summer Paralympics.
Newington is situated on the traditional aboriginal lands of the Wann clan, known as the Wann-gal. The lands of the Wann-gal stretched along the southern shore of the Parramatta River between Cockle Bay (Cadi-gal land) and Parramatta (Burramatta-gal land). The opposite Parramatta River bank was occupied by the Wallumetta-gal.
Within ten days arrival of the First Fleet in Australia, plat records were made of “The Flats”, the extensive tidal wetlands at Homebush Bay. From 1788 to 1831, land grants in blocks of 100 to 10,000 acres (40 km²) were distributed to the European settlers from the Wanng-al clans holdings. Official County of Cumberland maps were annotated with the names and boundaries of the new land owners.
In 1807, John Blaxland acquired 520 hectares of land, originally reserve grants of Waterhouse, Shortland, Archer and Haslam. He named the estate Newington after his family estate in Kent, England. Blaxland established a series of salt pans on the banks of the Parramatta River and by 1827, was producing 8 tons of salt each week for the Sydney market. Blaxland also established a tweed mill, limekiln and flourmill. Newington House was completed in 1832 and St Augustine’s Chapel in 1838.
In 1843, Blaxland mortgaged the property to the Australian Trust Company. The mortgage went unpaid at the time of his death in 1851. John Dobie purchased the property from the Trust Company to paid off the mortgage. The Blaxland family re-purchased the estate from Dobie in 1854 and offered it as security against a large loan. The property was transferred to the Official Assignee of the Insolvent Estate of Edward James Blaxland in 1860 and subsequently leased to the Methodist Church, who established Newington College on the site. The property, extending from near the current Holker Street to the current Carnarvon Street, was sold to John Wetherill in 1877.
Coal mining explorations were undertaken by Blaxland in 1841. He dug several six metre pits which gained the interest of the Australian Mining Company. The two parties reached agreement and, subsequently, undertook several unsuccessful explorations. In 1878, the City of Sydney Coal Company acquired the right to bore for coal at the site. The company drilled to 457 metres with no success. In 1855 the Australian Timber Company formed to exploit the timber stands in the Newington and surrounding areas. In the late 1870s and 1880s, Sydney’s suburbs were expanding rapidly and it was hoped that the creation of a residential settlement between the large centres of Sydney and Parramatta would be a profitable exercise. This did not prove to be the case.
In 1878, John Wetherill registered a subdivision plan for the entire 520 hectare Newington Estate. This proposal comprised an extensive grid layout, of some 114 lots, which extended well into the mud flats and mangroves of Wentworth Bay and Homebush Bay. In 1906 and 1909, Wetherill further subdivided his property as Riverside Heights, with the first allotments sold in that year. It was hoped that the location of the subdivision in close proximity to the developing State Abattoir and Brickworks would attract people to the area in association with the employment opportunities offered by these establishments. This venture was largely unsuccessful, with only a few lots being sold. However the layout of the western part of the Newington subdivision remains obvious in the current street pattern and street names.