Enjoying a harbourfront setting within walking distance of the CBD, Woolloomooloo offers the best of inner Sydney living.
Before colonisation, Woolloomooloo was a hunting ground and home for the Gadigal people.
The suburb is named for the first homestead in the area, Woollamoola House, built around 1793. Woolloomooloo’s famously difficult-to-spell name has long captured the public’s imagination and is the subject of many songs and rhymes.
Following a period as farmland and then a residential area, a semicircular wharf was built in Woolloomooloo in 1866 and the famous Finger Wharf was completed in 1915. In the subsequent decades, the suburb filled up with small houses, pubs, and billiard rooms catering to the wharf workers.
By the middle of the 20th century Woolloomooloo was a rundown, overcrowded working class area. During the 1960s plans for redevelopment were proposed by developers and just as quickly opposed by residents. ‘Green bans’ in the early 1970s ultimately saved many of the heritage buildings, housing and character of the suburb. Over the next 20 years, the old housing was restored, and street closures, landscaping and new community amenities all contributed to the creation of the sought-after suburb we know today.
Property Market Update: Woolloomooloo Real Estate
Census data shows us that a typical Woolloomooloo resident is a single 37-year-old professional or manager, living either alone or with one other person.
Unlike neighbouring Potts Point, which is populated almost exclusively with apartments, Woolloomooloo housing stock includes rows of charming Victorian terraces, with terraces, semis and more contemporary townhouses making up 22.5% of the suburb’s residences. The majority (76.2%) of housing in Woolloomooloo consists of units and apartments, with just 8 free-standing houses in the suburb.
According to realestate.com.au, the median price for a unit in Woolloomooloo in 2020 was $1.2 million. Over the last five years, units in the suburb have experienced an 8.6% compound growth rate, while houses have seen 7.5% compound growth over the same period.
Property investors take note – 70.8% of Woolloomooloo’s residences are rented. Some of this large percentage is social housing. According to realestate.com.au, houses in Woolloomooloo rent for $750 per week, with an annual rental yield of 2.7%, and units rent for $570 per week with a rental yield of 2.5%.
5 reasons the locals love Woolloomooloo
When Woolloomooloo got its own tram in 1915, it only lasted 20 years before being decommissioned in 1935. In part this was because its residents tended to walk everywhere they needed to go, and not much has changed. According to the 2016 census, 42% of Woolloomooloo’s residents walk to work. Woolloomooloo’s location within walking distance of the CBD makes it the ultimate location for those who want proximity to the city.
With its neighbours including Potts Point to the east, Darlinghurst to the south and the CBD to the west, Woolloomooloo’s northern border traces the harbourfront. It is outlined by Brougham Street to the east, William Street to the south and Cook + Phillip Park, Sir John Young Crescent and Lincoln Crescent to the west.
2. Finger Wharf
Other than Harry’s Cafe De Wheels, the Finger Wharf is arguably Woolloomooloo’s best-known landmark. Completed in 1915, it is thought to be the largest wooden-piled building and the largest finger wharf in the world. It was an awe-inspiring sight at the time of its construction and remains so today.
For around 70 years it was a working wharf, handling wool exports, acting as an embarkation point for troop deployment to the World Wars and an arrival port for new migrants coming to Australia. A $300m redevelopment was completed in 1999, creating over 300 apartments, a hotel and a marina. Today, it is home to some of Australia’s rich and famous, as well as world-class restaurants such as China Doll, Kingsleys Woolloomooloo, Otto Ristorante and Manta.
3. Great pubs
Since its days as a working-class suburb catering to the needs of the wharf workers, Woolloomooloo has been home to popular pubs. Although the suburb has been transformed since those days, there are still plenty of places to wet your whistle in Woolloomooloo.
The Tilbury Hotel, with its bistro menu and outdoor courtyard, is one of the most popular, set just back from the waterfront on Nicholson Street. The Bells Hotel opened in 1922 and is wonderfully evocative of Woolloomooloo’s bygone era of working wharves. The Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel’s location on the waterfront opposite the Finger Wharf affords it breathtaking views of the harbour. ‘The last country pub in the city’, the East Sydney Hotel has been going strong since 1856 and still features open fireplaces, wooden floors with copper nails, and no poker machines. And The Frisco Hotel celebrates its Naval links with an impressive 16 plus draught beers on tap.
4. Culture and Creativity
Woolloomooloo has long been a cultural melting pot, and that spirit lives on in venues like The Old Fitz Theatre. Located on Dowling Street, it is known as the home of independent theatre in Sydney. Its producers are busy planning the 60-seat venue’s rebirth in 2021 after it’s pandemic-enforced shutdown.
And locals and visitors can happily lose days at The Art Gallery of NSW, found on the edge of Woolloomooloo, enjoying its permanent collection and visiting exhibitions.
5. Green Spaces
Just because Woolloomooloo is nestled in the heart of Sydney doesn’t mean it lacks green spaces.
A section of Cook + Phillip Park known as the Fragrance Garden (planted in 1962 to cater for the workers at the Industrial Blind Institute, since demolished) occupies Woolloomooloo’s south-western corner. As well as lawns and gardens, Cook + Phillip Park is home to an indoor fitness centre and pool, a free basketball court, off-leash dog areas and a children’s playground. The Domain lies along Woolloomooloo’s western border, offering ample grassy areas to work out, rest and play, as well as being the site of music concerts and events. The Royal Botanic Gardens are found just beyond Woolloomooloo’s northern edge, with 30-hectares of gardens and lightly wooded lawn areas open to all every day of the year. Woolloomooloo itself is also dotted with numerous pocket-sized parks and green spaces, including the well-maintained Woolloomooloo Community Garden on the corner of Dowling Street and Sydney Place.
4/67 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo
Directly overlooking the harbour and Woolloomooloo’s famous wharves, this spacious 2-bedroom apartment enjoys a private harbourview balcony, underground parking for 2 cars and a communal resort-style pool and terrace.
If you’re interested in buying or selling in Woolloomooloo, contact my team today.