Sunday, March 12, 2023





Darling Point is a harbourside eastern suburb of Sydney, Australia. It is 4 kilometres east of the Sydney central business district and is part of the local government area of Woollahra Council.

Darling Point is bounded by Sydney Harbour to the north, Double Bay to the east, Edgecliff to the south and Rushcutters Bay to the west. Darling Point, renowned for its desirable and expensive real estate, is mostly residential and is regarded as one of the most exclusive and prestigious suburbs in Australia.

Name origin:

What is now the Darling Point area was originally known as Eurambi, Yarranabbi, Yarrandabbi and Yaranabe by the local Aboriginal people. It was named Darling Point in recognition of Elizabeth Darling, the wife of New South Wales Governor Ralph Darling.

Darling Point was first called 'Mrs Darling's Point' in Surveyor Larmer's 1831 field book, in honour of Elizabeth Darling, the name being later shortened to its present form.

Elizabeth Darling, 1825

Governor Ralph Darling


The Darling Point area was originally part of the larger territory of the Cadigal clan of the Eora people whose country extended across the southern shores of Sydney Harbour. They lost traditional land and harbour resources after European arrival in 1788 and a smallpox outbreak in 1789 resulted in widespread annihilation with few survivors. Several sources also confirm an Indigenous presence (a 'tribe', and a 'king': Yerinibe or Yaranabi) in the area, well into the nineteenth century.

Steep and heavily wooded terrain, a high ridge and an unstable shoreline delayed European occupation of Darling Point until the 1830s.

The construction of a new road in 1831 and Bentley's Bridge over a swampy gully in 1838, improved access slightly.

Sketch at Mrs Darling's Point, near Sydney 1835

The number of Darling Point residences increased from six in 1841 to 13 at the end of the decade and a permanent close-knit community began to emerge. During the ensuing decades, Darling Point's reputation as a desirable suburb was firmly established by affluent residents who built large villas on their land which they maintained with readily available domestic labour. The owners of those estates enjoyed a high standard of living and several had close familial and business connections. One contemporary journal article described that community as the exclusive 'Darlingpointonians'. Members of the community entertained lavishly in their palatial residences which were the venues for events such as soirees and balls that were so famous that a surviving score from the late nineteenth century was entitled 'The Darling Point Polka'.

Title page of 'The Darling Point Polka' 1863

Among the new settlers in Darling Point during the 1840s were Thomas Ware Smart MLC and MLA, and Thomas Sutcliffe Mort, who both helped to forge its permanent community. Each played prominent roles in colonial politics, including the campaigns for responsible government and against renewed convict transportation in the late 1840s to early 1850s. Mort was an auctioneer and colonial entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the emerging Australian pastoral industries with the construction of infrastructure such as Mort's Dock at Balmain, railway rolling stock and the early development of refrigeration for the meat export market. Smart and Mort created large estates where they built their grand villas – Mona and Greenoakes.

Mona, Darling Point c1870
Regency style villa located on Mona Road in Darling Point. The residence was owned by the Smart family and then leased by Thomas Rowe. It was converted into flats in 1922.

As the Darling Point community grew, several residents including Smart, Mort, and Thomas Whistler Smith MLA (son of early settler, Thomas Smith) – known locally as the 'three Toms' – requested Sydney's Church of England Bishop W Broughton to provide them with a place of worship. Mort donated part of his land for the St Marks Church which was designed by Edmund Blacket and opened on 7 November 1852. During the following decades the 'three Toms' served as trustees and wardens of St Marks and, together with many other generous parishioners, provided considerable financial support for the church. Both Mort and Smart later allowed access through their estates to shorten the parishioners' route to services. As well as a place of worship, St Marks provided its parishioners with a social centre,

St Mark's Church, Darling Point 1863

Looking from creek in Rushcutters Bay (later in the Park) to Darling Point with St Mark's Church 1870-75

After the passage of the New South Wales Constitution Act 1855, and the gradual development of self-government, an increasing number of politicians and members of the judiciary took up residence in Darling Point. The establishment of the elected Woollahra Municipal Council in 1860 and the introduction in 1863 of a reliable new land registration system (Torrens Title) undoubtedly increased the locality's appeal. Several residents owned their own carriages but in 1848 a fairly expensive daily omnibus service was provided between Darling Point and the GPO and it remained the main form of public transport until the end of the century.

During the late nineteenth century, local residents pressured the colonial government to address the problem of Darling Point's unstable foreshores which posed considerable challenges to landholders.

The creation of the Rushcutters Bay Park was undertaken in 1878–79. The completion of the seawall in 1890 further improved the unstable Rushcutters Bay shoreline but landowners continued to be hampered by the inadequate road along its route. Nevertheless, the reclamations facilitated the subdivision of several shoreline allotments and the construction of new homes. Two surviving late nineteenth century Yarranabbe Road residential buildings – Craigholme and Stratford Hall – were built on large Yaranabee [sic] allotments between Yarranabbe Road and the Rushcutters Bay shoreline.

The 1891 census showed that the number of Darling Point residences had increased to 114 and the population was then 709. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, several owners of large Darling Point estates had died and their families were unable, or unwilling, to maintain their large homes and gardens.

The poet Dorothea Mackellar also chose to make a home in Darling Point during the 1930s when she purchased the late nineteenth century residence, Cintra, which remains at 155 Darling Point Road.

Reflecting the trend to increased residential density in Sydney, 34 buildings of flats were created in Darling Point in the 1920s and another 14 were added by the early 1930s.

The concept of co-operative ownership of multi-occupancy residential buildings (later known as Company Title, and even later as Strata Title) had been accepted since the 1920s when buildings such as the Astor at 123 Macquarie Street, Sydney, were developed and sold under that structure. That form of ownership of multi-occupancy buildings continued until the late 1950s and early 1960s when Woollahra Municipal Council began to approve subdivision plans of developers who found Darling Point a rich source of suitable properties. As a result, several remaining large nineteenth century homes were demolished and replaced by multi-storey buildings. The demolition of Darling Point's nineteenth century residential heritage increased with the passage of the New South Wales Conveyancing (Strata Titles) Act 1961, which provided individual title to apartments as compared to the ownership of shares in a company title structure.

In 1979 the Burra Charter was enacted and in 1979 the New South Wales Heritage Act 1977 was amended to incorporate conservation provisions in the local government planning procedures under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act of 1979 . Since that time there has been a growing local appreciation of Darling Point's residential heritage. Despite the challenges posed by developers, there have been some attempts to preserve what remains of the suburb's residential heritage and to protect its natural environment.

Although Darling Point's skyline is now dominated by high-rise buildings, remnants of its nineteenth and twentieth century residential history have survived, some of which are now listed in state and local heritage schedules. While only four residences have statutory protection as state heritage listed properties – Bishopscourt, Babworth House, Lindesay and Swifts – over 115 items are included in Schedule 3 of Woollahra Municipal Council's 1995 Local Environment Plan. That schedule includes not only surviving buildings, but also trees, gardens, stone retaining walls, gateposts, streetscapes, bus shelters and sandstone features, all of which provide traces of Darling Point's European history.

Today Darling Point is a comparatively leafy suburb with attractive tree-lined streets, parks and reserves.

Only 176 (7.1%) single family homes remain in Darling Point and the vast majority of Darling Point's 3,812 residents live in high density (81.1%) or medium density (11.7%) residences. A significant proportion (38.7%) of residents live in lone person households and their age structures vary considerable, with 27.5% of residents falling within the older age grouping (65 plus). Despite its increasing density, Darling Point continues to attract well-educated and affluent residents.


Harbourside mansions, Darling Point, Sydney

Built in 1884 for Sir George Bowen Simpson, politician and judge, who named the house after Cloncorrick Castle in Ireland, where his grandfather once lived. It has been converted into two apartments.

Built in stages from around 1873 to 1882 by Sir Robert Lucas Lucas-Tooth, the distinguished Australian brewer. In the 1880s, Sir Robert Lucas-Tooth had the house significantly remodelled in the style and likeness of his family home, Great Swifts Manor in Cranbrook, Kent.The house was subsequently purchased by Edmund Resch, also a brewer, and eventually bequeathed by his son Edmund Resch Jr to the Roman Catholic Church upon his death in 1963. In 1997, Swifts was acquired by the Moran family and, in what saved the home from a state of dereliction and possible destruction, underwent total restoration and renovation.

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