Growing up in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in the 1980s and 90s, I remember the pull of Darlinghurst. As a teenager, I would catch the 380 bus, get off at Taylor Square and dive gratefully into the slipstream broadmindedness — of lives lived imaginatively.
Darlinghurst, a triangle of 80 hectares, sits on the edge of Sydney’s CBD. Dominated by high rocky ridges on which grand colonial houses were once built, it is bordered in the east by Rushcutters Creek (Boundary Street), which was used by Aboriginal peoples until at least the 1860s, and in the south by a Gadigal pathway (Oxford Street), which traced a route out to the ocean. The colony’s first mills were built beside valley streams, which were soon covered over by densely packed rows of terrace houses — homes to workers, artisans and labourers.
Shaped by this landscape, and transforming it, a mixture of posh and poor, criminal and respectable, itinerant and established, sick and well have made their lives in Darlinghurst. My Darlinghurst profiles this colourful neighbourhood, revealing the stories of its migrant and Indigenous residents, the razor gangs and brothels, the soldiers and wharfies, and the artists and LGBTQIA+ communities who have made — and continue to make — Darlinghurst their home.