Rose Bay was named after the Right Honourable George Rose, who was joint Secretary to the British Treasury with Thomas Steele, after whom Steel Point at Nielson Park was named. The name Rose Bay was used as early as 1788 by Captain John Hunter HMAS Tingira, named after an Aboriginal  word for ‘open sea’ was moored in Rose Bay from 1912 to 1927. It was used to train over 3,000 Australian sailors, many for service in World War 1 There is a small park on the Rose Bay waterfront which commemorates Tingira.]

From 1938, seaplanes landed in Sydney Harbour on Rose Bay, making this Sydney’s first international airport, and what is now Rose Bay Water TRansport. On 14 September 1945, nine Catalina flying Boats landed and moored at the Rose Bay wharf, repatriating Australian prisoiner of war, survivors of Japanese camps. Sydneysiders looked on in silence, aghast at the emaciated state of the returning soldiers. There is a nearby restaurant called Catalina, referencing the aircraft of the same name.

From the 1950s, Ansett Flying Boat Services operated regular scheduled flights to Lord Howe Island from a small seaplane terminal and jetty on the Rose Bay foreshore. Latterly the flights were operated by four-engined Short Sandringhams

The service was discontinued in 1974 when the island’s new airport was completed. Currently three different seaplane carriers, two of which are operated, offer scenic flights around Sydney Harbour and up to Palm Beach. Also popular are lunch packages to several water front restaurants on the Hawkesbury River.

The Wintergarden Cinema was a landmark building which housed the Sydney Film Festival from 1968 to 1973, but which was demolished to make way for exclusive apartments in the late 1980s