Suburb Showcase: Darlington

August 21st, 2020 - by Brad Gillespie

Discover pocket-sized Darlington, an inner-city oasis of Victorian architecture, education and culture, with a proud working-class heritage.

The location

At one time it was the most densely populated suburb in Sydney, but today the tiny-but-perfectly-formed suburb of Darlington has a population of just 3000. It lies only 3km south of Sydney’s CBD and is bordered by City Road, Cleveland Street, Golden Grove Street, Wilson Street and Abercrombie Street.

Darlington is sandwiched between the University of Sydney, parts of which occupy its northern portion, and the old Eveleigh railway yards, now Carriageworks, which lie on its southern border. Both institutions have left their indelible mark on the suburb. It is neighboured by Chippendale to the north-east, Camperdown to the north-west, Redfern to the east, Eveleigh to the south and Newtown to the west.

From a rich and vibrant working-class past, today Darlington is prized for the enviable inner-city lifestyle it offers. Filled with perennially popular Victorian terraces and repurposed twentieth-century industrial buildings, it’s within walking distance of the city as well as major hubs such as Sydney University, UTS, RPA and Redfern station.

It’s something of an education epicentre, home to its own primary school and TAFE’s buzzing Eora campus as well as the University of Sydney. Given its proximity to Carriageworks, Seymour Centre, Tin Sheds Gallery, Sheffer Gallery and White Rabbit Gallery, amongst others, it’s also a cultural hotspot.

Residents needn’t go far for good coffee, cold beer or a delicious meal. Terra Cotta Roasters are serious about coffee and serve up a great brunch and Kindred has garnered glowing reviews for its rustic Italian fare. The iconic Royal Hotel was built in 1894 to cater to the local railway workers and is still serving up cold beer and good times today.

Property market update: Darlington real estate

Reflecting the suburb’s vibrant working-class history, Darlington’s residential properties are a unique mix of charming Victorian terrace houses, worker’s cottages and apartments. Its character-filled streets are steeped in history and although it has benefitted from modernisation, it still retains its heart and soul. Between the university students, young couples and families and downsizers who make the area their home, there’s a great sense of community.

As of mid-2020, Darlington’s median house price is $1,650,000, according to It’s a popular suburb, with Darlington property listings averaging 1637 online visits per month in the last year. With only 578 terraces and 40 free-standing houses in the suburb, competition for available properties can be strong. Accordingly, house prices have seen a 9.5% compound growth rate over the last five years.

Given its proximity to Sydney University, it’s perhaps not surprising to find that the median age of Darlington’s residents is between 20 and 39 and 73% of residents are renters.

An attractive proposition for investors, houses in Darlington rent out for an average of $830 per week, with an annual rental yield of 2.6%. Units rent for $525 per week with a rental yield of 4.0%.

Five fascinating facts about Darlington

For thousands of years, it was prized for its rich soil

Before colonisation, the Gadigal people lived from the area’s turpentine and ironbark forests and fished its waters.

The area's fertile soil was also valued by the early colonists. In 1835 a fruit and flower farm was established here by William Shepherd, after he was granted 28 acres of land by Governor Ralph Darling. Shepherd named the plant nursery Darling Nursery after the governor, and from here Darlington got its name. Local street names such as Ivy, Pine, Myrtle, Rose, Vine and Shepherd recall William Shepherd and his farm.

In 1864 it became the smallest municipality in Sydney after a petition to join the City of Sydney was rejected.

It was once considered a slum

By the 1880s Darlington had been subdivided for worker’s cottages and terrace houses, many of which still stand today. The establishment of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops in 1882 had a profound impact on the area, providing work for residents and firmly establishing it as a working-class district. By 1891 it was the most densely populated suburb in Sydney and considered by many to be a slum.

The Old Darlington School (1878) and the NSW Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind (1880s) are two fine examples of civic buildings from this era. Both are now part of Sydney University.

Old Darlington School 1878 - Photo from Wikimedia

By the early twentieth century housing was making way for small factories and workshops. The IXL Jam Factory between Golden Grove and Forbes Streets was the largest factory in the area. It was demolished in the 1980s but its garage, built in 1937, still stands today.

In the 1960s the University of Sydney’s expansion into Darlington began, and the character of the area began to change.

It’s home to Sydney Uni

Following the acquisition of land and properties in the 1960s and 1970s, a good portion of Sydney University now lies within Darlington’s borders, bringing with it some top-notch facilities.

Well-loved performing arts and theatre venue Seymour Centre lies in Darlington’s northern corner, playing host to a wide range of dance, theatre and music productions.

In 2018 a brand new training space opened at the Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre in the heart of Darlington, complementing the indoor pool, tennis and squash courts and multi-function sports hall and stadium. Not just for students, the facilities are open to the community.

It’s been shaped by The Eveleigh Railway Yards and Carriageworks

From the time they were established in the 1880s to build and service steam trains, the Eveleigh Railway Yards have influenced the tone of Darlington. Its industrial past long gone, the site is now home to the iconic Carriageworks, Australia’s largest multi-arts centre, known for pushing artistic boundaries whilst highlighting Sydney’s distinctive urban communities.

Foodies travel from far and wide every Saturday to visit the famous Carriageworks Farmers Markets and sample its delicacies and stock up on the best fresh seasonal produce.

It’s green

It may be small but that doesn’t mean Darlington is lacking in green spaces.

The jewel in the crown is Cadigal Green, part of Sydney University but open to all. Darlington’s largest park, it was landscaped in 2009 and features custom designed seating and a water harvesting wetland. At its heart lies the old Darlington School building dating from 1878.

Neat and tidy Charles Kernan Reserve, on the corner of Abercrombie and Shepherd Streets, is the perfect spot for a family picnic, with playground equipment, BBQs and a bike path, as well as a community garden.

There is also play equipment to be found at the Vine Street Playground and a tiny but sweet green oasis at the Shepherd Street Reserve.

Not to be forgotten, the 9-hectare green expanse of Victoria Park can be found just across City Road in neighbouring Camperdown.

If you’re interested in making vibrant Darlington your new inner-city home, contact us today.

Photo credit:,_New_South_Wales