It has many stores that sell goods wholesale, as well as hardware and car shops, and some fast food outlets. It is also known for its adult entertainment industry, along with Mitchell, one of the two places in the ACT where there is legalised prostitution (which was decriminalised but limited to those two suburbs in 1992).
It was named after Sir Philip Fysh, a Tasmanian politician who assisted in bringing about Australia's Federation. The suffix "wick", from Old English, means "dwelling place" - and, by extension, "village" or "district". Its streets are named after Australia's industrial towns and regions - for example, Mount Isa is represented by Isa Street and Townsville is represented by Townsville Street. The suburb consists mainly of light industrial and retail space.
The only railway line into Canberra runs through the middle of Fyshwick dividing the area into two halves. Ipswich and Newcastle Streets as well as the Monaro Highway cross the railway line uniting both halves of Fyshwick.
The Fyshwick sewage treatment works was built in 1967 to treat waste water that couldn't easily be pumped to the other side of Canberra. It has been recently converted to use a modern portable pressurised treatment system developed by ACTEW called CRANOS. It is now used to treat industrial waste water, which is then used to water the Duntroon grounds and golf course.
One noteworthy portion of Fyshwick, located between the railway line and a major road called Canberra Avenue, was built as a German prisoner of war camp immediately after World War I (1918). The prisoners never arrived, and the camp was left empty while half of the buildings were sold off. Soon after the government was using unemployed returned servicemen to help build Canberra, and in 1921 the camp was converted to house labourers to alleviate a severe housing shortage. Gradually the camp buildings were moved to other camp sites around Canberra and the roads used to service the camp became the first streets of Fyshwick.
A hospital later became a primary school for people living in Molonglo. This school closed in the 1930s.
During World War II an auxiliary wireless station was opened at Molonglo at what is now 5 to 7 Tennant Street. This operated until 1946. The station consisted of one wooden T shaped building and a fibro mess hall. This station operated the receivers for the strategic fixed radio links to Australia for Whitehall, Halifax, and Bombay Fort. During this period 14 WRANS operated the equipment. Marion Stevens was a Petty Officer in charge of the station from 1943 to 1946. She was notable as the only woman in charge of a transmitting station.
The station was part of the Harman radio network, as was connected via a landline to the main Harman site. Equipment at the Molonglo station included teletypes for use when reception was good. During poorer radio propagation periods morse code radiotelegraphy had to be used.
After the war the Molonglo station became a dog training school. In the early 1980s the buildings were demolished.
Most of the north of Fyshwick is underlain by Canberra Formation, calcareous shale. On top of this to the east and west of Jerrabomberra creek are Tertiary pebble gravels, and also quaternary alluvium. There are two andesite dykes intruded across Gladstone Street. South of the South Fyshwick fault is the dacitic andesite of the Ainslie Volcanics. The South Fyswick Fault starts in Narrabundah, runs east from Lithgow St to Tennant Street, crosses the Molonglo river and heads north east to Dundee Hill to join Sullivans Fault.