Darlinghurst is a densely populated inner-city suburb located immediately east of the Sydney central business district and Hyde Park. Once a slum and red-light prostitution district, Darlinghurst has undergone urban renewal since the 1980s to become a rather upmarket, cosmopolitan and diverse area. Darlinghurst has a diversity of activities with a matrix of inner-urban cultures. Its human-scaled development and intricate streetscapes are reminiscent of some parts of European cities such parts of Prague or the Marais Arrondissement in Paris. Places such as Victoria Street (which joins Darlinghurst and Kings Cross) are known as culturally rich destinations.

The main thoroughfare of Darlinghurst is considered to be Oxford Street which is well-known around the world as the centre of Sydney's gay community, and is home to a number of gay venues and the Sydney Mardi Gras. In recent years, Oxford Street has garnered a reputation for being Sydney's primary nightclub strip , popular with both gay and straight clubbers, surpassing the notorious red-light district of Kings Cross in popularity. Victoria Street offers a variety of cafes and restaurants. However, if you are up for more serious dining, Stanley Street will be the place to head to with cuisines ranging from Japanese to Thai to Italian and fusion.

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East Is East Night Markets
278 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
Trading: Thursdays (fortnightly)  6.30pm  9.30pm
Type: Art & Craft, Artisans, Baby & Kids/Children, Designers, General, Twilight, Vintage/Retro, Fashion, Handmade, Community
Phone: 0451 118 330

Sydney Jewish Museum

The museum tells the story of Jewish settlement in Sydney, as well as a memorial to the survivors of the Holocaust. Open Mon - Thurs 10.00am - 4.00pm; Fri 10.00am - 2.00pm; Sun 11.00am  5.00pm. Entry fee applies. 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst. UBD Map 4 Ref B 11
Public transport: train to Kings Cross, walk south along Darlinghurst Rd to Museum; or Sydney Explorer

Darlinghurst Gaol

In the 1820s, Colonial Architect Francis Greenway was commissioned to design a gaol that would overlook Sydney as a constant reminder that Sydney was a convict town. The walls of the jail were built by convicts from 1822-1824 to Greenway's design but his plans for the gaol itself were abandoned because Greenway himself was a former convict. The gaol was built using the plans of a jail in Philadelphia which is shaped like the spokes of a wheel, with wings radiating from a central point leaving narrow segments of space between.

It was used as a prison from 1840 till 1912, during which time a total of 79 people were executed there. In 1912 the gaol's replacement at Long Bay was complete and the Darlinghurst establishment was transferred to this site. The old gaol buildings were used as an internment camp during The Great War. In 1921, it was converted for use as a school for tertiary education. There are three known haunted rooms in the old Gaol buildings; one of them is a classroom which was used to house prisoners prior to hanging. lights have been known to come on and doors lock by themselves and bad smells have been noticed near the stairs from time to time. Numerous sightings of ghosts have been reported.
Oxford Street, Darlinghurst. UBD Map 3 Ref Q 13
Public transport: Bus No. 389 from Circular Quay, alight cnr Oxford & Bourke Sts.

Oxford Street

Oxford Street is the major commercial thoroughfare of Darlinghurst, running from the south-east corner of Hyde Park, through Taylor Square and beyond into Paddington, Woollahra and Bondi Junction, respectively. In recent years, Oxford Street has garnered a reputation as Sydney's primary nightclub strip. The western section, which runs through the suburb of Darlinghurst, is widely-recognised as Sydney s main gay district and Oxford Street is closed to traffic once a year in early March for the world famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The section to the east of Taylor Square, running through the suburb of Paddington forms an upmarket shopping strip, noted for fashion, gifts and homewares, and represents the home of the new medical faculty of the University of Notre Dame Australia as well as the University of New South Wales  College of Fine Arts, Victoria Barracks, Paddington Bazaar and St Vincent s Hospital, Sydney amongst other locations. Oxford Street Mall with artificial tram tracks that have been installed to commemorate the actual tram line that passed though here prior to 1960,

Stanley and Victoria Streets

Stanley Street is one of the suburb s two important secondary restaurant strips (with Victoria Street) and is often referred to as Sydney's first 'Little Italy'. It was influenced by post-WWII Italian migrants who had disembarked at nearby Woolloomooloo. Today, the restaurants range from Japanese, Thai and Italian and the prices range from basic to moderate. The annual June Italian Fiesta draws thousands as the street is closed for food festivities.

Victoria Street is the other major cafe strip. Restaurants range from basic to upmarket, most with al fresco seating. Several popular restaurants, such asTropicana and Bar Coluzzi, are often packed with locals taking a snack on-the-run.

Victoria Barracks

Victoria Barracks, located in Oxford Street, houses the Headquarters Land Command and Headquarters Training Command, as well as the Army Museum of NSW which is housed in the original District Military Prison, constructed in 1800. The barracks was constructed of Hawkesbury sandstone by way of convict labour between 1841 and 1846.

The Barracks were originally occupied by regiments of the British Army who vacated the site in 1870 and was the premier military training site in Australia until 1901. For a brief period during the 1930s Victoria Barracks was home to the Royal Military College, Duntroon when the College was forced to close its buildings in Canberra and relocate to Sydney due to the economic downturn caused by the Great Depression.
Location: Lincoln Crescent, Woolloomooloo.

Paddington Reservoir

Located on the corner of Oatley Road and Oxford Street is the Paddington Reservoir, a water reservoir which provided water to the Botany Swamps pumping station for the provision of water to parts of Sydney between 1866 and 1899. In 2006 work began to restore and reuse the space of the then derelict Paddington Reservoir.

The facility reopened in 2008 as a sunken garden known as the Paddington Reservoir Gardens or Walter Read Reserve, with a rooftop reserve located above the preserved eastern chamber. The facility integrates the remains of the original brick, timber and iron structure with modern elements of sculptural, structural and functional significance which provide access to the sunken garden via stairs and an elevator as well as ramped access to the rooftop reserve.

The suburb was originally known as Eastern Hill and then Henrietta Town, after Governor Lachlan Macquarie s wife, whose second name was Henrietta. The loyalties changed with the change of governors and the suburb became Darlinghurst in honour of Elizabeth Darling, the popular wife of Governor Ralph Darling, during the early 19th century. The suffix hurst  is derived from the Old English word hyrst, meaning wooded area.

About Darlinghurst

Darlinghurst Courthouse

The area was originally known as Eastern Hill and later Henrietta Town, after Governor Lachlan Macquarie s wife whose second name was Henrietta. 'Hurst' is the old English word for a wooded area. Its main road, Oxford Street, was originally named South Head Road and dates from 1811. It was the colony's first toll road and highway, linking the city with the strategically important Macquarie Lighthouse at South Head. The toll gates were near Glenmore Road, Paddington. Re-named Oxford Street in 1875 it was widened in 1911 to accommodate more traffic.

Today, dense terrace houses, many with their original rear access garbage lanes, are interleaved with a large medical hospital and research facility, the Sydney Museum, a prominent 19th century sandstone court, and former goal complex (now art school) where the famous Australian poet Henry Lawson did time during some of the turbulent years of his life, and a towering 43-storey high-rise apartment block with wave patterns by prominent modernist architect, Harry Seidler. The St John s Anglican Church and spire, by the famous architect, Edmund Blacket, is a local landmark of heritage significance.

Gentrification in the 1950s and 1960s gave way to rejuvenation in the 1980s and 90s: Darlinghurst lost its ragged patina and became home to art galleries, haute coutureateliers and eclectic, even quirky, design shops, all catering to those with renovated homes keen to retain original characteristics but with modern conveniences close to the city CBD.

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  • How to get there:
    Public transport: Bus No. 389 from Circular Quay. Train to Kings Cross station on the Eastern Suburbs line.

    The Name
    Darlinghurst was named by Governor Ralph Darling, NSW Governor from 1825-1831, in honour of his wife, Elizabeth Darling. Elizabeth was one of the most popular of Colonial Sydney's Governors' wives. 'Hurst' is a suffix in Old English nomenclature meaning 'wooded hill'. The Aboriginal settlement established by Gov. Lachlan Macquarie on the ridge that is now Darlinghust was also named after a Governor's wife named Elizabeth - Macquarie's own wife - through he used her second name when calling the settlement 'Henrietta Town'.

    Darling Point, a kilometre east of Darlinghurst, was also named after Elizabeth Darling. At the time of its naming, the peninsula was heavily wooded, but by 1838, most of the trees had been felled and the area subdivided into 9 to 15 acre farms.

    Oxford Street Mall

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