If Macleay Street is Potts Point’s beating heart and Oxford Street is Darlinghurst’s party animal, Victoria Street is their quieter, more sophisticated cousin, albeit with a rough and ready past and some passionate political views to boot.
A short history
Notable for its old world streetscape with leafy canopies of London Plane trees and 19th century terrace houses and sandstone cottages – many of which are heritage listed – the Potts Point end of Victoria Street encapsulates the nature of early housing development in Australia.
Stretching from Potts Point, through Kings Cross and up into Darlinghurst, Victoria Street was the scene of some of Sydney’s high profile anti-development struggle – including the green bans of the 1970’s.
The bans were a combined effort between residents action groups, squatters and striking construction workers and led to the scaling back of development plans, which would have seen a swathe of terrace houses and open spaces in inner-city Sydney destroyed in favour of apartment blocks and motorways.
Victoria Street – likened by some to Paris’ Montmartre – was home to a number of significant cultural figures. One was Juanita Nielsen, heiress, publisher of alternative newspaper NOW and face of Victoria Street’s anti-development protests. Her mysterious disappearance from the Cross in 1975 was later ruled likely to be a murder orchestrated by connections of developers.
Long a bohemian hotspot favoured by artists and students, the close proximity to Darlinghurst Road meant that some of Victoria Street’s grand old houses were eventually turned into backpackers hostels, bringing further diversity to the area. Many of them still remain – although there are signs that this is gradually changing.
Likewise, while some of Kings Cross’ nightlife used to spill into Victoria Street, the closure of venues such as the Piccadilly Hotel (which is being redeveloped into shops) has brought a different kind of energy to the street, namely a renewed focus on dining.
Out and about
You don’t have to stray far for a bite to eat or a drink to sip on Victoria Street. Where Victoria Street intersects with Darlinghurst Road is a mecca that ranges from fine dining to casual bites.
Jangling Jacks is a brilliant, low-key bar – great for a casual Friday drink with friends before heading out to dinner, or a nightcap on the way home.
The Butler offers great contemporary food and an excellent cocktail menu, Ms G’s a great take on Asian fusion and Society Di Catania has some of the best pizza in Sydney.
Further into Darlinghurst, Gelato Messina, Infinity Bakery and Kurtosh are perfect for a sweet treat or casual coffee as you wander the surrounding boutiques. And then there’s the iconic Tropicana Cafe – site of the first TropFest film festival.
Things you may not have noticed
With all the buzz at the top end of Victoria Street, it’s easy to forget that the other end of this 1.6 kilometre stretch offers some of the best views in all of Sydney. Overlooking Cowper Bay Wharf and onwards to the CBD and the Harbour Bridge, Embarkation Park usually only comes back into mind on New Year’s Eve.
On every other day of the year it offers a serene place for Victoria Street’s residents to unwind and soak in the view, and some sun. At the other end of Victoria Street, opposite St Vincent’s Hospital, you’ll find Green Park – home to a bandstand, the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial and the Victor Chang Memorial and perfect space to sit, gather your thoughts and reflect.
The other thing you may not have noticed – but a fun quirk of Victoria Street geology – is its quick connection to the city via the Butler, McElhone and Hordern Stairs, which cut through the cliff face to provide quick access to Woolloomooloo and The Domain.
Political action has ensured that a huge chunk of Victoria Street’s terrace housing remains in place, with some excellent examples on display. There are some interwar and modern apartment blocks scattered around too – most with excellent views to the city and the harbour. Between Earl Street and Grantham Street, Potts Point, the buildings on both sides of the street are heritage-listed.
Notable commercial buildings include:
- St Vincent’s College
- Darlinghurst Fire Station
- St Vincent’s Hospital
- Green Park Hotel
- St Johns Anglican Church, Darlinghurst
- Piccadily Hotel
Houses of note include:
- 202 Victoria Street (Juanita Nielsen’s home listed under the State Heritage Act)
- Overcliff, 38 Victoria Street
- St Michaels, 80 Victoria Street
- Hordern House, 77-79 Victoria Street
- Edina, 75 Victoria Street
Notable apartments include:
- Melton Apartments
- Waratah apartments, built in the 1980’s, recent renovations have seen this apartment complex establish itself as the epicentre of modern apartment living, with sprawling views of Sydney Harbour.
Why the locals love it
Not only is it beautiful, it’s a hive of activity. The people watching on Victoria Street couldn’t be better, and the nightlife, the restaurants, and the shops keep the locals entertained.
Some of our recent sales in Victoria Street
80 Victoria Street Potts Point, NSW, 2011
59 Victoria Street Potts Point, NSW, 2011
140 Victoria Street Potts Point, NSW, 2011
43/71 Victoria Street Potts Point, NSW, 2011
77-79 Victoria Street Potts Point, NSW, 2011
55 Victoria Street Potts Point, NSW, 2011