Darlinghurst is one of Sydney’s most eclectic neighbourhoods, home to everything from Australia’s biggest gay and lesbian celebration to the country’s oldest museum. The area also features the Harbour City’s most glamorous shopping strip and liveliest late-night venues. Discovering Darlinghurst? Tick off these 10 attractions in the 2010 postcode.
Darlinghurst is showered in glitter on the first Saturday of March for this annual celebration of Sydney’s LGBTQI+ community, one of the largest Pride parades on Earth. From humble beginnings in the 1970s, Sydney’s Mardi Gras has blossomed into one of Australia’s largest cultural events, as 200 floats wind their way up Oxford St in front of tens of thousands of rainbow-clad revellers.
The neighbourhood’s after-dark activity isn’t limited to Mardi Gras, because Darlinghurst is home to Sydney’s liveliest nightlife. This part of the world is at the forefront of Sydney’s small bar scene — Shady Pines Saloon, Eau De Vie and Love, Tilly Devine are some of the best watering holes — or visitors can continue the LGBTQI+ theme at pulsing nightclubs around Taylor Square like Stonewall and Arq.
Bars aren’t the only places open late in Darlinghurst — there’s plenty of great places to indulge in a late-night feast, too. The cheese-loving Big Poppa’s, pork purveyors Mr Crackles, the contemporary Italian at Casoni and the cutting-edge Middle Eastern fare at Almond Bar are some of Sydney’s best restaurants to grab a feed late in the evening.
Stroll down Oxford St — the beating heart of the suburb — and you’ll find Sydney’s favourite boutique live music venue. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York in the 1960s, the Oxford Art Factory hosts a dynamic line-up of big-name and up-and-coming artists from across Australia and around the globe. Stick around the atmospheric two-room venue for a drink after your gig, too.
Believe it or not, there’s still heaps to do in Darlinghurst even when you’re sober, including a handful of compelling museums. In fact, the neighbourhood is home to the oldest museum in Australia — the Australian Museum, an international leader in the fields of natural history and anthropology since way back in 1827. Plus, there’s the solemn Sydney Jewish Museum and the zany Museum of Magic, too.
Darlinghurst is brimming with quality independent retailers, including Australia’s premier luxury consignment store. Not far from the high-end boutiques at the east end of Oxford St, you can’t miss Blue Spinach’s loud blue building on Liverpool St, which has been finding a new home for pre-loved men’s and women’s designer fashion since 1996. Bargain hunters, rejoice.
This humble Oxford St bookstore is an icon of Sydney’s gay community, cementing its reputation as the Harbour City’s leading source of gay and lesbian literature for more than 35 years. The Bookshop Darlinghurst has survived in this era of online shopping, thanks to its friendly, expert staff as well as its support of small press, self-published authors and LGBTQI+ specialty publishers.
Locals have been flocking to this much-loved Darlinghurst institution for more than 25 years for two reasons. One is the all-you-can-eat buffet, brimming with authentic Indian fare. The other is the cute cinema screening a program of independent and Hollywood flicks every evening, so you can stuff yourself silly then kick back on one of the floor cushions, beanbags, pillows and couches for a movie.
The charming streets of Darlinghurst contain a string of Sydney’s top independent art galleries: Stanley Street Gallery, ARTERY Aboriginal Art, King Street Gallery, Arthouse and Gallery 9, to name just a few. TAP Gallery relocated to the neighbourhood two years ago, providing a new un-curated artistic space for a diverse mix of artists and community groups, particularly charities, the homeless and the disadvantaged.
Darlinghurst’s artworks aren’t limited to its galleries, with colourful murals adding a splash of colour to laneways around the suburb. The ‘We Are Here’ project on Foley St is a local council program that promotes public art by showcasing graffiti pieces and mixed-media collages that take visitors through the history of the area, tracing Darlinghurst’s transformation from an inner-city slum to one of Sydney’s most creative suburbs.