Darling Point has long been celebrated for its gorgeous homes, scenic parks and breathtaking harbour views.
But this waterfront gem holds secrets even Darling Point locals might have yet to discover.
1. It was once known as Yaranabe. For thousands of years, Darling Point has been home to the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. Its Indigenous name, Yaranabe, was first recorded by Europeans in 1790 and is believed to honour Aboriginal man Yeranibe Goruey. Today, Darling Point’s Aboriginal heritage is celebrated by Yarranabbe Road and Yarranabbe Park.
2. It almost became a whaling station. In the 1830s, Governor Ralph Darling rejected an application for a whaling station at Darling Point and instead reserved the land for public purposes. The area was opened up for residential development in 1833 and given the name Mrs Darling’s Point in honour of Governor Darling’s wife, Eliza. It wasn’t long before the area was known simply as Darling Point.
3. It has a song written about it. In 19th-century Darling Point, parties and dances featuring live musical performances were the height of entertainment. By the middle of the century, a new trend for music written and named after local places was emerging, and in 1863, The Darling Point Polka was composed. The score can be found at the State Library if you’re interested in playing it yourself.
4. It was home to one of Australia’s best-loved poets. Dorothea Mackellar, author of Australia’s best-known and most quoted poem, My Country, was born in Point Piper but spent the last 35 years of her life in Darling Point. Despite having travelled Australia and the world and holding memories of the ‘sweeping plains’ of Australia’s interior close to her heart, Dorothea chose to spend most of her final years at Cintra, a late 19th century home at 155 Darling Point Road.
5. It harbours secret swimming spots. The secluded sandstone steps at McKell Park that lead to harbour swimming heaven are one of Darling Point’s best-kept secrets. And the suburb may be home to more harbour bathing areas before too long, with Woollahra councillor Harriet Price suggesting recently that Darling Point Reserve has the potential to become a harbourside swimming spot in the future.
6. It’s favoured by celebrities. Over the years, Darling Point has been home to plenty of famous residents, including aviator Charles Kingsford Smith, ‘I Am Woman’ singer Helen Reddy and former prime minister Gough Whitlam. Nicole Kidman even owned a home on Yarranabbe Road while she was married to Tom Cruise.
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7. It’s full of architectural gems. From the moment it was opened up for residential development in the 1830s, Darling Point has been a canvas for some of Australia’s most outstanding architects. Edmund Blacket, arguably Sydney’s most famous colonial architect, designed Darling Point landmarks Retford Hall and St Mark’s, while Blacket’s employee, John Horbury Hunt, conceived Cloncorrick. Fast forward to the 20th century, and Darling Point welcomed the mid-century modern treasure Gruzman House by Neville Gruzman and several landmark residential properties by Ken Woolley to its architectural hall of fame. ‘Craigend’ was built in the Moorish and Art Deco styles in 1935, and for many years after WWII it was the residence of the US Consul General before featuring in the movie The Man from Hong Kong.
8. It has one of Australia’s most well-known churches at its heart. Built between 1848 and 1880, St Marks Anglican Church has been an integral part of the Darling Point community since its beginning. Banjo Patterson’s niece was married there in 1922, and it hosted many socialite weddings in the 1930s. But the most well-known nuptials to have been held there must be Elton John’s 1984 wedding to sound engineer Renate Blaeul. St Marks was also where the famous wedding scene from Muriel’s Wedding was filmed.
9. It’s predominantly populated by apartments. According to the 2021 Census, 87.1% of the homes in Darling Point are apartments. The transformation from a suburb of grand stately homes to one of apartment dwellers began in the 1950s, as mansions were demolished and blocks subdivided to accommodate Sydney’s growing population. Glenhurst Gardens, now a Darling Point icon, was one of the suburb’s first high-rise blocks. It was soon joined by the likes of Hopewood Gardens, Retford Hall, Thornton Place and President Towers, among others.
10. It’s a sailing mecca. Rushcutters Bay’s Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is the home and birthplace of Australia’s best-known yacht race, the Sydney to Hobart. Started in 1945, the race still sets sail on Boxing Day every year, with Darling Point providing an excellent vantage point from which to watch the race’s start. And the CYCA clubhouse, which was refurbished in 2018, is a delightful place to enjoy a meal or a drink by the water all year round.
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