Rockdale is located 13 kilometres south of the Sydney CBD. Rockdale is home to a diverse spectrum of commercial, residential, industrial and natural landscapes plus a vibrant mix of people. Growth has been relatively stable with the approval of high density housing where appropriate. Tourists are attracted to the area, particularly along Lady Robinson’s Beach. The beaches at Brighton le Sands, Monterey and Ramsgate are clean and safe, ideal for swimming, sailing, water skiing and parasailing. Brighton le Sands is home to a myriad of restaurants and cafes that reflect the area’s cosmopolitan mix of cultures.
There was a suggestion that the area become the Municipality of Scarborough, however the name Rockdale was suggested by pioneer Mary Ann Geeves, postmistress and tollgate keeper. The name was officially adopted in 1887. The Geeves family lived on the corner of today’s Princes Highway and Tramway Arcade. Their general store adjoined the cottage and operated the first post office between Arncliffe and Kogarah in 1882. Residential development began with the opening of the railway in 1884. The most significant property developer during the 1880s was Frederick Jamison Gibbes, a Member of Parliament, who is commemorated by Gibbes Street, Banksia. Until 1949, an electric tramway operated down Bay Street between Rockdale Station and Brighton le Sands.
Rockdale Town Hall and the St George Tavern are examples of some of the Art Deco architecture in the area. The Town Hall was built in 1940 to a design by local resident and architect Douglas Gardiner.
The main shopping strip runs along the Princes Highway on the eastern side of the railway line. The commercial centre spreads out into surrounding streets and on the western side of the railway station. King Street Mall has developed into a pleasant café culture area. Rockdale Plaza, which opened in 1997, is a medium sized shopping centre located on the Princes Highway. A diverse range of specialty shops are in this centre.
A new library, which opened in 2016 received overwhelming response from the community. The 2200 sqm library has large open spaces. Natural light streams through the glass facades on the eastern and western sides of the building.
The area is attractive to new residents and business owners for many reasons, not merely its proximity to the centre of Sydney. It is well serviced by buses, trains and major roads, i.e. M5 Motorway, Princes Highway and General Holmes Drive.