Punchbowl is named for a circular valley, called “the punch bowl”, which is actually located in the nearby suburb of Belfield at the intersection of Coronation Parade, Cooks River and Punchbowl Roads. This feature gave its name to “Punch Bowl Road” (now Punchbowl Road). In the 1830s, an inn built by George Faulkener, close to the corner of Liverpool Road, was called the Punch and Bowl. John Stephens had a property there in the 1830s and his son is mentioned in the Wells Gazetteer in 1848, “Clairville or Punchbowl, in the Parishes of St George and Bankstown, is the property of Sir Alfred Stephens”. When a railway station opened on this road in 1909, three kilometres away from the ‘punch bowl’ itself, the surrounding suburb came to be known as Punchbowl.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Punchbowl was a higher-class suburb, with a number of popular theatres that were closed down or demolished thirty years later. The Punchbowl Astoria opened on 17 July 1935 with seating for 915 persons. The final programme was shown on Wednesday 4 February 1959. The Astoria was eventually gutted and refitted as a three-storey office building. The Punchbowl Regent was situated on the corner of The Boulevarde and Matthews Street. Operated by Enterprise Theatres Ltd, the Regent opened on Saturday 24 May 1923, showing The White Rose. It was a large cinema with seating for 1,287 patrons. The last programme was shown on Wednesday 4 February 1959. The Regent was demolished in August 1964 and replaced by a block of shops.
Until 1987, Roselands was a neighbourhood within Punchbowl, though they still share the same postcode today (2196).
Canterbury Road and Punchbowl Road provide the major road links into the suburb. The Boulevarde and South Terrace are also main roads. Punchbowl railway station is located on the Bankstown line of the Sydney Trains network. The line was opened in 1895 and electrified in 1926. Trains take around 25 minutes to Sydenham and 40 minutes to Central station.
The Punchbowl Road railway bridge replaced an old two-lane bridge in 1981. The foundations of the old bridge can still be seen west of the current one. The new bridge greatly aided traffic flow through the area but at the cost of effectively cutting the shopping centre in half.
Punchbowl is a mainly residential suburb. Much of the suburb was developed in the late 19th century and early 20th century, especially after the railway line to Bankstown was built. The suburb features a mixture of Federation, Art Deco and contemporary homes. Parts of Punchbowl have been redeveloped since the turn of the 21st century, with flats, townhouses and modern detached houses built.
The first inhabitants of Punchbowl were Aboriginal tribes. The first Europeans in the area were British and Irish settlers in the 19th century. By the mid-20th century, the suburb had absorbed many migrants of Italian and Greek origin. From the mid-1970s, Punchbowl became a very popular location with migrants from Lebanon.
At the 2016 Census, there were 20,236 people in Punchbowl. 45.3% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were Lebanon 12.6%, Vietnam 5.3%, Bangladesh 2.9%, Pakistan 2.9% and China 2.7%. 21.2% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Arabic 36.1%, Vietnamese 7.1%, Greek 3.9%, Bengali 3.5% and Urdu 3.1%.
Punchbowl is also home to The Broadway Plaza with a fully enclosed and air-conditioned, with retail facilities on the ground and first floors, together with retail and office suites. The Broadway Plaza is anchored by Woolworths and 32 specialty shops over two levels with a good range of services and convenience based shopping. The Broadway Plaza is situated in the heart of Punchbowl town centre, located in the south-west of Sydney, approximately 12 kilometres from the Sydney CBD. Punchbowl train station located on the T3 Bankstown Line 300 metres from the Centre and an extensive bus system servicing the local areas and the wider region.
**Note this list is not a current list and is in reference to people who have previously or currently reside in Punchbowl**