Located in a coveted position at the very tip of Darling Point, Yarranabbe Gardens was constructed on land belonging to three old Darling Point mansions: Chollerton, Yatalunga and Edmonton.
We explore the fascinating history of this landmark building at 87-97 Yarranabbe Road.
The name “Yarranabbe” has a strong connection to Darling Point, harking back to the area’s pre-colonial past.
Yarranabbe is the Indigenous name for Darling Point. The word first appeared in European documents in 1790, when First Fleet linguist Lieutenant William Dawes listed the term in his language notebook. It is believed to honour Yeranibe Goruey, a First Nations leader who originally lived near present-day Parramatta and became well-known in the fledgling colony.
From a Captain’s Folly to Chollerton
According to a historical document from Yarranabbe Gardens Ltd, the land the apartment building stands on was originally part of a seven-acre block. The land was purchased from the crown for 365 pounds in 1833 by ex-convict and businessman Joseph Wyatt.
Two years later, Wyatt sold the land for a healthy profit to the Surveyor General, Thomas Mitchell (marked as the owner on this very early map). By 1853, a retired sea captain (sometimes referred to as a smuggler), John Cleland Malcolm, had built a home on the property known as “Malcolm’s Folly” or “Captain’s Folly” near a freshwater spring. It was unfinished for many years and reputedly had treasure buried on the grounds. Both the name “Malcolm” and the spring are clearly marked on this map of landholdings from 1861 and look out onto “Emily Bay”.
In the late 1800s, Proceedings of the Australian Historical Society reveal the property was renamed “Chollerton”.
A news article from 1896 describes a visit to the home, which by then was run as Miss Hathorn’s girls school:
“Chollerton commands a fine view of the harbour, is situated near the water, though standing high above it, and the grounds which are well wooded and laid out in terraces from the road to the water’s edge, terminate in a long water frontage with private pier and beach. There is a tennis court, a large swimming bath, and plenty of recreation ground where the girls delight to take their exercise. On the evening in question I was, shown round this charming home by one of the girls who finds life very pleasant on the Yarranabbe Road, and we saw the cow which provides the milk and the chickens which were destined for the next day’s dinner.”
By 1899, Chollerton was owned by George Wilcox, who subdivided its land into three parcels, which he split between his three sons. Chollerton went to Sidney; Murray received Yatalunga, while George Junior received the westerly block named ‘Okinya’ (the aboriginal name for ‘well’).
By 1912, Chollerton had been sold to George Julius. Born in the UK, George was a mechanical engineer and inventor. He was knighted in 1929. While living at Chollerton, Julius and his wife hosted fashion parades (photos exist in the State Library of NSW), garden parties, charity events and fetes featuring exhibitions of George’s much-talked-about model electric city.
By the 1930s, Yatalunga at Number 89 was owned by HB Phipps. In 1939, Phipps placed an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Situations vacant” section: “HOUSE-PARLOURMAID, or Houseman-butler, must be thoroughly experienced and references satisfactory. H. B Phipps, 89 Yarranabbe Road, Darling Point.”
When Number 97 Yarranabbe Road, known as “Edmonton”, was offered for sale in 1903, it contained a description of the property in what it calls “the highly improved and favourite Marine Suburb” of Darling Point:
“A Water-frontage RESIDENCE known as EDMONTON fronting the YARRANABBE RD and the WATERS of the HARBOUR, a short distance west of the Darling Point Road. The Land is terraced… Edmonton is built of brick (cemented), on stone foundation, with verandahs and balconies front and rear and containing 8 rooms, bathroom tower-room, pantry, kitchen, larder, and cellar , detached laundry.”
Creating Yarranabbe Gardens
By 1947, Chollerton was owned by Dr and Mrs EW Spark, who lived there with their family before adding to their landholdings by buying the next-door property, ‘Yatalunga’.
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A wave of development, or redevelopment, swept Darling Point from the postwar period during the 1950s, with mansions replaced by mid-century apartments.
In 1957, the Sparks applied to build a block of apartments on land and were approved (they had previously submitted other DAs with Council at 89 and 91-93 Yarranabbe Road).
However, in 1959, the local council took Yarranabbe Gardens Ltd to court, as a newspaper article from the time shows:
“The dispute over the £750,000 Yarranabbe Gardens flats at Darling Point had been settled… Yarranabbe Gardens Ltd. had appealed to Judge Prior against a demolition order issued by Woollahra Council in July. The council claimed the flats were being built without council approval. It also claimed that the floor space of the flats exceeded the area laid down under local government ordinances.”
To appease the council, adjoining land was purchased and “Edmonton” was demolished (the owners of Okinya had allegedly refused to sell). The new apartment building was completed in accordance with Council plans.
The architect for Yarranabbe Gardens was acclaimed Hungarian-born Hugo Stossel, who also designed many other apartment buildings in the area, including ‘Broadwaters’ at 11 Sutherland Crescent.
Yarranabbe Gardens was built in 1958 around two “east and west” wings, featuring 77 apartments ranging from one to four bedrooms.
The Sparks moved in, and became the first residents of unit 903.
Yarranabbe Gardens today
Yarranabbe Gardens is a tightly-held absolute waterfront security building with a pool, jetty, and gym. It is set in manicured gardens and boasts its own private beach.
Over the years, some improvements have been made and some apartments have been amalgamated. In 2018, its street-level entrance and common areas were upgraded by architects.
In 2022, an unrenovated double apartment reportedly achieved a sale price of well over $10 million.
In March 2023 apartment 408, offering 100 sqm, two-bedrooms, one bathroom and parking, sold for $6.26 million, achieving the highest per square meter price for an apartment of that size in Darling Point.
We currently have apartment 701 on the market. This generous two-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor offers stunning harbour views and occupies over 110 sqm, with one bathroom and additional storage.
If you’d like to know more about the Darling Point property market, or if you need help buying or selling a home, get in touch.