Five Dock lies roughly at the foot, or southern end, of the Drummoyne peninsula. More precisely, Five Dock lies between Parramatta Road and the City West Link Road to the south and Hen and Chicken Bay, on the Parramatta River, along with the suburbs of Wareemba and Russell Lea, to the north. Its total area is 2.45 km².
Rodd Point lies to the east. Haberfield adjoins Five Dock to the south-east. Iron Cove forms a small section of the suburb's eastern boundary. Ashfield and Croydon lie on the other side of Parramatta Road, to the south. The suburbs of Canada Bay and Concord adjoin Five Dock's western boundary. Burwood lies just beyond Croydon, to the south-west.
From the heart of the shopping centre, it is approximately 7.5 kilometres to Sydney's central business district, measured in a straight line from the original Sydney General Post Office in Martin Place. By road, this same distance is about 9-10 kilometres, depending on the route taken.
Originally, the local post office was called the "Wareemba Locality store", but after the geographical location was changed it was the named to the "Wareemba Post Office".
John Hunter, explorer and Governor of New South Wales
The earliest written reference to Five Dock is in The Sydney Gazette of 3 February 1805, which mentions Five Dock Bay. However, the name probably dates back to the days of the First Settlement. All of the sources referenced are in agreement that it was derived from the shape of the bay along the Parramatta River.
According to a publication from the Maritime Services Board, Port of Sydney, (Volume 9, No 3, September 1965), "At the NE point of the bay there were five water worn indentations that were likened to docks, hence the name Five Dock."  There is widely contradictory information, however, about how many of these natural formations still exist. The Maritime Services Board publication concludes that there "are two of the five remaining". However, Eric Russell's Drummoyne: a western suburbs' history from 1794 states that one was lost with the construction of the 1881 Gladesville Bridge, but "the others remain in 1982". Other sources give different numbers again.
Many Five Dock streets are named after mayors, aldermen and other associated with local government, including Charles Street, Corden Avenue, Henley Marine Drive, Hill Street, Howley Street, Ingham Avenue, Kerin Avenue, McGrath Avenue, McKinnon Avenue, Myler Street, Preston Avenue, Sutton Street, Timbrell Drive, Udall Avenue, West Street and William Street.
Another series of streets is named after early landowners, subdividers and prominent local businessmen, including Ramsay Road, Taylor Street, Mitchell Street, Betts Avenue, Friend Avenue, Harris Road, Gildea Avenue and Bennett Avenue. Rickard Street, Noble Street, Heath Street and Augusta Street were named after Sir Arthur Rickard and members of his family. Rodd Road, Trevanion Street and Barnstaple Road are named after Brent Clements Rodd and members of his family. A few streets take their name from local residents, including Mackaness Close and Langsworth Way.
The Great White Fleet visited Sydney in August 1908 and several local street names recall ships in the fleet. Connecticut Avenue is named after the USS Connecticut (BB-18). Illinois Street is named after the USS Illinois (BB-7). Minnesota Avenue takes its name from the USS Minnesota (BB-22). New Jersey Road takes its name from the USS New Jersey (BB-16).
A few streets are named after prominent people: Queens Road after Queen Victoria; Garfield Avenue after American President James Garfield, Kingsford Avenue after Charles Kingsford Smith, Bevin Avenue after Ernest Bevin and Henry Lawson Avenue after Henry Lawson, who lived on Great North Road briefly in 1922. The name of Coronation Avenue commemorates the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.