Now on the one title, the terrace at 160 and the large Victorian house at 162 Victoria Street have a long history connected both to Sydney’s convict days and the race that stops the nation.
It’s hard to imagine the changes these stately properties have witnessed over the past 150 years.
Convict connections: the early days
In April 1832 a young man stood before a judge in London’s Old Bailey. Accused of stealing a watch from a man named John Clowsley, the 20-year-old was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation to the colonies. His name was Gabriel Moss.
After arriving in Sydney on the Mary, Moss would eventually marry twice, have more than a dozen children with his two wives and one mistress (the number of children is hard to pin down – so is the number of mistresses), serve out his sentence and change his name to George. When he first arrived he was assigned to a hawker, but a few years into his sentence he did hard labour in Sydney’s infamous iron gang for re-offending.
While Moss bore his leg-irons, another young man was making good in Sydney. Thomas Ware Smart, the son of convicts, worked as a banker, auctioneer, mill owner and estate agent before becoming a magistrate. He was then appointed Colonial Treasurer and Secretary for Public Works.
Smart built the elegant Mona House in Darling Point. He also bought up land around the eastern suburbs, including part of the Tivoli Estate in Victoria Street, Potts Point, which he purchased in 1864.
162 Victoria Street
By the time Smart was investing in land, Moss had completely turned his life around. He was enjoying success as a wine merchant and was married to his second wife, Mary Ann Heuston.
In 1868, Smart decided to sell a section of his Tivoli Estate holding. This included lot 5, which he advertised in The Empire at a price of £12 per foot. The buyer? George Moss.
Over the next two years Moss built the two-storey home that still stands today at 162 Victoria Street.
From fine wine to fine jewels: 160 Victoria Street
A year after Moss bought his slice of Victoria Street, the neighbouring lots 6, 7 and 8 were snapped up by John Williams, a licensed victualler (someone who supplies food and liquor to vessels). By 1875 Williams had sold the land to John Hardy, who built his own three-storey terrace at 160 Victoria Street.
Hardy, a jeweller, founded a business that is well known to many Sydneysiders: Hardy Brothers. Now Australia’s oldest continually operated jeweller, the business is also the only fine jeweller in the Southern Hemisphere to hold a royal warrant and is renowned as the maker of the Melbourne Cup.
Changing hands, merging properties
After being sold by their original owners, both properties changed hands many times as the 20th century progressed. At one point, members of the Arnott family (of the biscuit empire) owned 160 Victoria Street.
Yautin Holdings purchased both homes in 1970.
Today, the two properties are collectively home to the Original Backpackers, which has been operating since 1980. The Original Backpackers is an icon in the area. It has been ranked number 1 on TripAdvisor for good value accommodation in Sydney, and is known for its warm hospitality and courtyard garden – the scene of many a celebration. If only these walls could talk… But the properties are set to enjoy a new chapter.
160 and 162 Victoria Street on the market
Offered on a single title, 160 and 162 Victoria Street are on the market for the first time in over 40 years.
It’s sale is part of a broader trend that’s seen several backpackers change hands, as the area becomes more residential, and less commercial. We’re seeing increasingly strong buyer demand for large houses in this area, with many willing to remodel, alongside developer interest in potential sites for small developments and boutique hotels.
Currently comprising over 940sqm of land and boasting 30 bedrooms, 20 bathrooms and many living spaces, this historic property would make a wonderfully spacious home in an enviable location. Create an unrivalled grand family estate or convert into prestige apartments (STCA).
Find out more about this unique property here. Or, to arrange an inspection, call me today.