The theme for the 2012 National Trust Heritage Festival was ‘Innovation and Invention’. Inspired by this theme, the Glebe Society decided to put together and maintain a list of ‘Glebe firsts’ with links to further information about each item where available. This list includes achievements by people or groups from Glebe or Forest Lodge where these have been the first of their kind in Sydney, NSW, Australia or the world.
Please send in others or feel free to challenge or support any of those listed.
- First indigenous training centre in Australia (Tranby Aboriginal College established in 1958). [Origins of Tranby]
- First Aboriginal Australian to graduate from an Australian university (Charles Perkins, graduated 1965).
- First indigenous contemporary dance company (Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre established in 1975 in St James Hall, 153 Bridge Rd, Glebe. Some dancers went on to form the famous Bangarra Dance Theatre).
- First Prime Minister of Australia (Edmund Barton born in Glebe in 1849 – became PM in 1901).
- Start of the Women’s Liberation movement in Australia (67 Glebe Point Road, 1970).
- First refuge in Australia for women and children escaping domestic violence (Elsie in Westmoreland Street, established 1974).
- First attorney and solicitor trained in Australia (George Allen, admitted by the Supreme Court of NSW in 1822).
- First government acquisition and rehabilitation of property in Australia for low-income housing (Glebe Estate, rehabilitated 1974).
- First tiramisu served in NSW (or maybe Australia?) (the Mixing Pot restaurant, Forest Lodge) (a Melbourne restaurant claims the “first in Australia” claim – this needs further study)
Science and technology firsts
- First medical school in NSW ((Sir) Professor Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart (b.1856, d.1920) was the first (Foundation) Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Sydney. He sailed to Sydney from Scotland to take up the post in the Faculty of Medicine in 1883 aged 27. Anderson Stuart lived at 10 Toxteth Road Glebe during the 1880s with his wife Elizabeth Ainslie. He became the subject of some scandal when she died in the house from an accidental overdose of morphia in 1886. He worked tirelessly until his death to create one of the most important medical schools in Australia, and was knighted in 1914 for his outstanding services to medicine. The sandstone Anderson Stuart Building at the University of Sydney is named in his honour.
- First Australian to become airborne in a self-designed and built aeroplane (L. J. R. Jones, 1911).
- First public wireless house in Australia for community entertainment (Wireless House in Foley Park, 1934).
- First appointment in the Australian media of a scientist as a full-time science correspondent — Dr Peter Pockley with the ABC, 14 September 1964. (Peter lived in Glebe from 1969 until his death in 2013.) Peter’s first regular science program was on radio and titled “Insight” in 1965. This weekly talk by a scientist was later renamed Ockham’s Razor” and is still running on ABC Radio National. The ABC Science Unit was formed under his Directorship in February 1966.
- First Australian commentary for a moon landing (Glebe resident Dr Peter Pockley (see above) narrated the Australia-wide commentary of the first moon landing in 1969)
- First woman in clinical medicine to be elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (Prof Ann Janet Woolcock in 1992 – the Woolcock institute in Glebe was named after her). *The prestigious Woolcock Institute of Medical Research (once the Institute of Respiratory Medicine) at 431 Glebe Point Road is named in honour of its founder, Professor Ann Janet Woolcock AO (b.1937, d.2001). Ann was the FIRST woman in clinical medicine to be elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1992. She was a physician, lecturer and speaker, and made groundbreaking contributions to medical research in the field of asthma, publishing widely. She was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her services to respiratory medicine in 1989.
- First Rugby League club in Australia (Glebe Dirty Reds, 1908).
- First suburban rowing club in Sydney (Glebe Rowing Club, 1879).
- First test cricketer to score a century in each innings of a test match (Warren Bardsley, playing for Australia against England, 1909).
There are a few notable “almost firsts” where Glebe was pipped at the post:
- One of the first three municipalities (i.e. council areas) established in NSW (1859, the same year as Randwick, which was the first).
- One of the first branches of the Labor Electoral League, later the Labor Party. (1891, shortly after Balmain, which was the first).
Controversial ones under study
Here are some claimed firsts that need further study. Please contribute to the discussion about these ones:
- First tiramisu served in Australia. This is claimed by the Mixing Pot restaurant – we need to study whether this should be first in NSW or first in Australia.
- First greyhound track in Australia.
Please send your proposals for inclusion in the list (and feel free to dispute any of the ones above!) at firstname.lastname@example.org.