Darling Point is renowned for its harbour and city views, but the suburb’s gardens and streetscapes are equally beguiling.
We take a walk through some of Darling Point’s private gardens and tree-lined public spaces.
The gardens surrounding heritage-listed property Lindesay have been admired by generations of visitors.
The house itself, completed in 1836, was the first home built in the area after Darling Point was subdivided. Today, the Lindesay gardens play host to weddings and other special occasions throughout the year. The parterre garden, manicured lawns and sandstone courtyard feature in many a couple’s wedding album, with uninterrupted harbour views forming a stunning backdrop.
So beloved are the gardens by locals, that a team of neighbourhood volunteers meets once a week to tend to them.
Another classic and iconic Darling Point mansion is Swifts, dating from 1883, with its imposing gates and fig trees. The gardens surrounding the stone house are a vital part of its heritage. Beyond representing landscape and design trends from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, they show the relationship between the house and garden defined by its landmark sweeping driveway, giving the estate unique historical significance. Both the house and gardens together are considered an “item of environmental heritage”.
Noted as Sydney’s first circular residential building, the very modern President Towers is also renowned for its award-winning gardens.
The grounds, which surround the tower and its pool area, boast a vegetable garden, a Japanese-inspired garden and nine discrete areas for residents to enjoy. The gardens are the work of landscape designer Ian McHugh, and won the Best Garden and Best Tree categories in the Woollahra Garden Awards in 2013.
The 1960s ushered in an era of change for Darling Point, with many of the suburb’s grand old mansions demolished to make way for apartment blocks. While some still remain, like Babworth House or The Annery, in other cases the historic homes may be gone, but remnants of their gardens remain, along with original garden walls, fences and gate posts. Hopewood Gardens, formerly Hopewood House, is one example.
Another of these is Glenhurst Gardens, which became known as the “singing apartment block” during Sydney’s covid lockdowns. The block is situated on the land where Glenhurst, a Victorian Italianate mansion, once stood. After Glenhurst was demolished, its gardens were incorporated into the landscaping for the new apartment block.
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McKell Park was opened in 1985, but some of its trees date from a much earlier time. Before the park was built, a large mansion, Canonbury, stood on this prime waterfront block. When the land was redeveloped, planners ensured they incorporated some of the already-existing trees into the landscape design. Take a look around the park and you’ll see Kentia and Bangalow Palms, some up to 12 metres high, which were part of the original Canonbury gardens.
Taking it to the streets
Beyond the garden gate, trees play a significant part in the street appeal of Darling Point – so much so that Woollahra Council has a Register of Significant Trees, which features a number of Darling Point trees.
As you head down Bennett Avenue towards Thornton Street you’ll see a row of palms ending with a pine. At 30 metres tall, the pine – a Cook Pine – is over 110 years old and believed to have been part of the early ornamental planting at Callooa (formerly Brougham Lodge). The palms are Canary Island Date Palms and are more than 80 years old.
On Loftus Road, near the corner of New Beach Road, two towering American Cotton Palms have stood sentinel for over 110 years, possibly planted as part of an original estate prior to subdivision.
Yarranabbe Park is also home to many significant trees. Prominent along many Darling Point streets, the Hill’s Weeping Figs that line New Beach Road are very familiar to locals. While they are listed by the council as Trees of Significance, this row of trees has caused friction over the years, with locals concerned about the trees obstructing their views.
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Photo credit: Wikipedia