Darlinghurst is an inner-city, eastern suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Darlinghurst is located immediately east of the Sydney central business district (CBD) and Hyde Park, within the local government area of the City of Sydney.
Darlinghurst is a densely populated suburb with the majority of residents living in apartments or terraced houses. Once a slum and red-light district, Darlinghurst has undergone urban renewal since the 1980s to become a cosmopolitan area made up of precincts. Places such as Victoria Street (which connects Darlinghurst to Potts Point in the north), Stanley Street (Little Italy) and Crown Street (Vintage and Retro Fashion) are known as culturally rich destinations. These high street areas are connected by a network of lane-ways and street corners with shops, cafes and bars.
Demographically, Darlinghurst is home to the highest percentage of generation X and Y in Australia. The majority of businesses in Darlinghurst are independently owned and operated small businesses with over 50% of all commercial activity in the area being consumer oriented: indie retail, food, drink, dining, leisure and personal services. Darlinghurst is also home to large number of off-street creative industries.
Darlinghurst’s main street is Oxford Street. This major Sydney road runs east from the south-eastern corner of Hyde Park through Darlinghurst and Paddington and terminates at Bondi Junction. Oxford Street is one of Sydney’s most famous shopping and dining strips. The Darlinghurst end is well-known around the world as the centre of Sydney’s gay community, is the yearly parade route of the Sydney Mardi Gras and the spiritual birthplace of the LGBT rights movement. It is home to a number of prominent gay venues and businesses, while more broadly Darlinghurst is a centre of Sydney’s burgeoning small bar scene.
From the 1990s onwards Oxford Street began to garner 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. As a result of the influx of revellers, crime rates increased in the area around 2007, particularly for assaults and robberies. This reported increase should be understood in terms of a very low background crime rate in East Sydney in general. The 2014 lockout laws saw many nightclubs close and the crime rate drop once again, with a new focus on small bars, restaurants and cafes after the lockout laws ended in 2020.
There are a number of named localities in and around Darlinghurst including Taylor Square, Three Saints Square, and confusingly also East Sydney. Locals have used this name to refer to the area immediately around Stanley Street in the suburb’s west, however the title is used more broadly throughout the area from Woolloomooloo up to Taylor Square where the old Darlinghurst Gaol still has the words East Sydney in brass lettering above the main entrance. This is because from 1900 to 1969 the entire area to the east of Sydney’s CBD, from the harbour to Redfern, was an electorate known as the Division of East Sydney. Already in 1820 the entire ridge line running from Potts Point to Surry Hills was known as Eastern Hill.
Darlinghurst shares a postcode (2010) and an extensive soft southern border with neighbouring suburb Surry Hills which, with Paddington to the east and Woolloomooloo, Rushcutters Bay and Potts Point to the north, comprise the metropolitan region of East Sydney. Although only minutes walk away from the Sydney CBD, this region is geographically distinct from it; separated from the more well known commercial centre by several landmarks: Central railway station, Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral and The Domain. East Sydney hosts many well-known restaurants.
Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs cover all the land from the east of Darlinghurst up to the Pacific Ocean.