Although heritage properties and harbour views are two things Darling Point is famous for, the area is actually rich in history long before the white settlement.
This tightly-held suburb on the Eastern side of Sydney was part of the territory belonging to the Cadigal clan of the Eora people. They used the harbour for fishing and collecting shellfish, and until the late 1800s had camped near the mudflats at Rushcutters Bay.
While settlers originally considered the land around Darling Point too rugged to settle, when roads came in the 1830s so did land grants – and those with some cash to splash on a grand new home.
And, although some of those iconic old mansions have made way for high rise apartments, there are still many touches of Darling Point’s old elegance and colonial history, if you know where to look.
Here’s how some of those local streets we know and love got their names.
Darling Point Road
The area itself was originally named Mrs Darling’s Point in the 1830s, in honour of Eliza Darling – the wife of Ralph Darling, who was the governor of NSW at the time. As it started to be subdivided for housing and sale, it was later simplified to Darling Point.
According to Pictorial History of the Eastern Suburbs, the Indigenous name of the Point is ‘Yaranabe’, which led to the naming of the famously steep Yarranabbe Road. It’s a name that’s believed to honour Yeranibe Goruey, who was a leader from another clan who joined life in the fledgling colony.
Thornton Street Stunning harbour views from the properties here make this a street many locals would love to live on. It’s actually named after the Honorable George Thornton, who was the first Chairman / Mayor of the Woollahra Council in 1860.
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Back in the day, an estate could be so big that the driveway later became a road. And that’s exactly what happened with the stately, Regency-style villa Mona House, which was built by Thomas Ware Smart. Smart, the son of two convicts, had worked his way up in the colony to be a rich man and wanted a house that displayed his wealth and rising status. The property was converted into flats in 1922, which are very popular these days!
The street was named after one of the oldest estates in the area: Carthona House, which is believed to translate as ‘the murmur of the waves’ in Gaelic. The harbourside house, built by Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1941, was famous for its iconic Gothic façade. The grand estate was later subdivided but the house, now owned by an art dealer, still remains.
This is another local street named after an ever-changing property – in a roundabout way! The original two-storey sandstone house – named Percyville – was built in 1841 for Sydney ironmonger Thomas Woolley, but it was later bought by Thomas Sutcliff Mort in 1846, who revamped it and renamed it Greenoaks. The Gothic Revival property, now known as Bishopscourt, was the Anglican Archbishop’s residence from 1911 until its sale in 2015.
St Marks Road
This gorgeous road lined with boutique apartments is thought to be named after the iconic St Mark’s Church nearby, which opened in 1852. This local landmark is popular for weddings and funerals, perhaps most famously for Elton John’s wedding to Renate Blauel, and for being the filming location for the movie Muriel’s Wedding.
Want to know more about Darling Point’s rich history, or looking to buy or sell in the area? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.