Living in Darlinghurst

To be very frank, Darlinghurst would not be a place you would take your grandmother or conservative parents for a relaxed lunch in Sydney. Not for any reasons relating to safety or security, but perhaps simply because this is an area that competes with all that's modern, trendy, edgy and fashionable about Sydney culture, and it could be said that this fast paced, super urban nook of the city might not be easily appreciated by those not already a part of the rat-race. The cafes are abundant, the shops are "abstract chic", the houses are small, and the "scene" is large. Formerly a red-light district, it has undergone a facelift or two and now is home to designers, creative professionals, youth culture, well heeled and fashionable corporate types and a thriving gay culture.

Darlinghurst is a more subtle Kings Cross and a glamorous older sister to Surry Hills. This suburb represents Sydney's ambitious and cosmopolitan streak perfectly in a relatively small area spanning the east of the city and nestled in between Paddington and Kings Cross. So many of Sydney's city attractions are walking distance away and it feels as if whatever appears still shabby about this area will probably no longer be so in another 5 years.

Housing

Originally an area forged of standard format terrace houses and art deco apartment blocks, real estate value has risen with the addition of new unit developments - some high-rise buildings, some not. It is certainly one of the more high-density housing locations in Sydney, and in as much, it is relatively easy to find somewhere to live here but it is a small suburb, with small-to-moderate sized dwellings.

Facilities, security, location and overall condition will determine whether or not you move into one of its "absolute steal" places, likely to be a very tiny studio apartment with little else (somewhere starting from $200/week at bare minimum), up to a large renovated terrace (somewhere around $700/wk upwards for a 2bedroom and yard terrace with all mod cons, style and relative space). Short term rentals are common here as this suburb is a popular option for people interested in seeing Sydney through a holiday makers eyes. For those with vehicles, parking is very tricky unless a parking permit has been issued, or a resident garage is available. The high density means that on street parking is time limited and expensive.

People

Darlinghurst is primarily home to a colourful, fashionable parade of Sydneysiders with a small residual component of the original locals, who still stumble and mumble their way around the back lanes of Darlinghurst. It appears as a social place, which essentially, it is. It's an area of great acceptance, tolerance and encouragement of all things eccentric and daring.

As most housing is not large enough to support private entertainment at home the cafes, clubs, pubs and even shopping centres appear to bubble with interaction. Despite its mixed and adventurous spirit, the locals are mostly sleek urban professionals by day who love the nightlife. There is a large gay culture here, a massive youth culture moving through on the weekends (to Oxford Street and Kings Cross), and Sydney's art/design student component (from the Collage of Fine Arts) hang out here too. Despite this, the scruffy originals still lay claim to Darlinghurst and memories of its less glamorous days are still evident in the spirit of these remaining residents.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

Given that this is an area of Sydney which clearly loves its nightlife, there are loads of options for entertainment. Oxford Street and the surrounding areas have many clubs, live music venues, dodgy pubs, gay bars, and restaurants to suit almost any taste. For every loud and large venue on the strip, you can find a small, more intimate bar or club on hidden side streets. If Oxford Street's Stonewall and its three levels of dance music are too much, you can head to Darlinghurst Road for coffee instead, or some cocktails at any one of many small, well designed bars. The Victoria Rooms on Darlinghurst Road is a visual feast of a venue with bordello style decor, pricey but unforgettable food and drinks, and packed with those keen to peacock their new clothes. Old pubs with cheap beer still dot street corners, such as The Darlo Bar, or the East Village.

Parks and Recreation

Parks don't feature extremely highly on the list of attractions for this suburb, however they do exist. Given its proximity to Centennial Park at the top Paddington end of Oxford Street, it is no great concern to have a few blocks without a swing set. The natural elements of Darlinghurst may honestly be confined to tree lined streets and some landscaped backyards, however, the "wildlife" of the area is still visible walking around on a Friday and Saturday night. Recreation here is simply of an urban essence, walk further a field if you like green expanses. Alternative activities might be showing off your new designer clothes, talking about a new short film, avoiding twitching drug users en route to Street Vincents Hospital, or being attractive and androgynous.

Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways

Supermarkets can be found in surrounding suburbs of Kings Cross, Potts Point, Surry Hills and Paddington and in Darlinghurst central there is no shortage of takeaway places. Most places can be found on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst and Victoria Road but the surrounding back alleys and side streets also hide away many great little restaurants too. Convenience stores provide emergency supplies, unforgiving lighting and unrelenting mark ups on basic items. The famous Cafe Tropicana is packed and open around the clock on Darlinghurst Road.

The fast food in the area is indeed fast, terrible, and highly available all along Oxford Street. At the edge of Darlinghurst is a small zone also known as East Sydney, which dips into a food promenade along Stanley Street. Prices and choice range greatly. Cafe Pacifico, also East Sydney, is a great Mexican option, with a great atmosphere, huge menu and a larger tequila selection than anywhere this side of Mexico itself.

Transportation

Darlinghurst is so centrally located that if you cant easily walk to where you want to go, you can certainly walk to Central Station, Kings Cross Station, Oxford Street or the CBD where you can get a train, bus, taxi, or light rail to take you there instead. Darlinghurst is definitely one of the easiest places to get to-and-from in Sydney. The only difficulty is trying to catch a taxi on Friday and Saturday nights due to the massive influx of weekend revelers.

Good Points

  • Centrally located
  • Excellent cafe, club, and bar scene
  • Relatively easy to find accommodation
  • Great tolerance for all subcultures
  • A part of Sydney that buzzes around the clock

Bad Points

  • Can be noisy and crowded on weekend nights
  • Security is advised for petty theft, drunken brawls etc.
  • Parking is difficult
  • Housing is usually small

Areas of Sydney

  • Bondi Beach
    Great for beach lovers but pretty and popular and therefore expensive.
  • Chatswood
    Multicultural area close to the city centre has everything you may need.
  • Coogee
    A lively area with a good beach and lots to do, day and night.
  • Darlinghurst
    Accepting of all types of people and lively at all hours of the night.
  • Glebe
    An artsy, multicultural suburb filled with students and backpackers.
  • Haymarket and Chinatown
    Asian influences abound in this lively area.
  • King's Cross
    Some would say seedy and dodgy but good for a cheap night out.
  • Manly
    Beautiful suburb with beaches, surf and a laid back lifestyle.
  • Newtown
    Crammed with funky clothing stores, cafes and bars playing live music.
  • Randwick
    Nice, relaxed area that is close enough to the beach.
  • Surry Hills
    Close to the centre of Sydney and full of character.

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