Suburb Spotlight: Woollahra
Woollahra is a truly fabulous suburb in which to live.
It combines the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Woollahra village’s cafes, shops and restaurants with pockets of green and proximity to almost everything you need. It’s just 5km to the city, right next door to Bondi Junction’s world-class shopping and transport options and its heritage architecture and leafy streets provide an oasis for residents.
Woollahra’s next door neighbours include Paddington, Double Bay, Bellevue Hill, Bondi and Bondi Junction. The suburb has a taste of everything that makes its neighbours popular, while retaining its own unique identity. Offering a great range of property, gorgeous parks and excellent schools, city living really doesn’t get much better than this.
How Woollahra got its name
Woollahra takes its name from Woollahra House, the residence of Daniel Cooper, the first speaker of NSW’s legislative assembly. That said, Woollahra House wasn’t actually located in Woollahra but in nearby Point Piper. The first mansion was built in 1856, followed by a second in 1883.
All that’s left of Woollahra House today is the gatekeeper’s lodge, which is currently used as the Rose Bay Police Station.
According to Woollahra Council the name may have Indigenous origins. In 1788, the First Fleet officer Daniel Southwell translated the local Aboriginal word ‘Woo-la-ra’ as meaning ‘The Look-out’. However, Woollahra has also been translated as meaning camp or meeting ground. The name was also recorded in the early years of the colony as ‘Woo-la-ra’, ‘Willarra’ and ‘Wallara’.
Population snapshot: Who lives in Woollahra?
Woollahra is a popular and stylish place to live. Like neighbouring Paddington, it experienced something of a resurgence in interest from the 1960s onwards and has managed to maintain its charm, while building a reputation as a desirable real estate hotspot.
At the time of the 2016 Census, Woollahra had 7,405 residents, with a median age of 41. There are a total of 3,649 residential properties. Of these, only 15% are detached, freestanding houses and around one third are terraces or townhouses. Just over half of all properties in Woollahra are units or apartments.
Thirty-three per cent properties are owned outright, 24% are owned with a mortgage and 36% are rented.
According to realestate.com.au Woollahra is a high demand area, with listings receiving 1,691 visits per property compared to a NSW average of 1,000 visits.
From one-bedroom art deco or modern units to large heritage or contemporary architect-designed houses, there’s a very good range to choose from along its quiet, leafy streets.
According to realestate.com.au, the median house price in Woollahra sits at $2,925,000 as of June 2020, while apartments achieved a median sale price of $1,140,000.
The vacancy rate is 2.95% and around a third of residents rent, according to realestateinvestar.com.au.
Active local community
I’ve worked in Woollahra and the Eastern Suburbs for over 20 years, and I have to say that it is home to one of the most welcoming communities around. The local Christmas Carols at Chiswick Gardens each December is a real highlight of the year.
Woollahra always makes it into the top 20 most generous postcodes when it comes to charitable giving. This generous community spirit is apparent daily at the Holdsworth Centre, which runs amazing programs for the young, old and many others in the area who need a helping hand.
Five reasons locals love Woollahra
1. Village and family vibe
The best known part of Woollahra is the village itself, with its shops, boutiques, delis, restaurants and cafes all clustered on Queen Street.
But Woollahra has more than one face and it would be a mistake to overlook its other, predominantly residential side. Stretching from Cooper Park to Syd Einfeld Drive, the small grid of tree-lined streets running down the hill have sensational views to the harbour. These streets are lined with Victorian character homes and a smattering of art deco apartment blocks.
This area is more family-centric and has lower per square metre rates because of the more generous block sizes. It’s walkable to Double Bay, Bondi Junction and Queen Street but it feels tucked away and secluded. Popular streets in this area include Attunga Road, Edward Street, View Street, Fletcher Street, Wallaroy Road, and Weeroona Avenue. Harbourview Park, Plumb Reserve and Cooper Park add plenty of green space to explore, and there are a handful of cafes and boutiques to enjoy along Edgecliff Road.
2. Heritage character
Woollahra is famous for its character-filled streets and it’s home to many heritage-listed properties that date back as far as the Colonial era. There are many properties from the Victorian, Federation and interwar years, as well as some striking modern designs. Green bans were placed on some properties in Paddington and Woollahra in the early 1970s. In more recent years, The Queen Street and West Woollahra Association has fought to preserve Woollahra’s streetscapes and unique character.
Woollahra Council area as a whole has over 700 heritage listed items. Heritage-listed properties in the suburb of Woollahra include:
- Waimea House (also known as Helen Keller House), built-in 1858
- Rosemont, built-in 1857
- All Saints Anglican Church, built from 1876
- Holy Cross Church, built in the Art Deco style in the 1940s
3. It’s a cultural hub
It may not be on the tourist trail but locals know that Woollahra is something of a cultural hub. Collectively, Woollahra and Paddington have the highest concentration of art galleries and dealers in Sydney. Popular galleries in Woollahra include .M Contemporary, Olsen Gallery, Fellia Melas, Smith and Singer and Soho Galleries. Woollahra is also home to a large number of well-known antique dealers. You can even take a self-guided walking tour of some of the key cultural sights.
For a small suburb Woollahra packs a big cultural punch, and even has it’s very own Philharmonic Orchestra.
But Woollahra is perhaps best known for its international flavour. Several overseas residences and consulates line its streets, including the Turkey, Russia, Poland and Serbia consulates. You can even learn to speak German at the Goethe Institut.
4. The excellent schools
Woollahra Public School is one of the East’s most highly regarded public primary schools and dates back to 1877. It boasts the area’s OC class (opportunity class) for high-achieving year 5 and 6 children, alongside some fairly impressive heritage-listed buildings.
Woollahra is also home to Holy Cross Catholic primary school and the Junior and Middle school campuses of the popular independent, co-educational and non-denominational school, Reddam House.
5. Great location
Woollahra is conveniently located just 5km from the CBD and city workers are well-serviced by busses. Woollahra is a short walk to either Bondi Junction or Edgecliff station and almost had its own station too. You can still see the platforms that never came to fruition from Edgecliff Road.
If you need a change of scenery it’s just 4km to the beaches or a hop, skip and jump across the road to Centennial Park. With Bellevue Hill’s prestigious schools, Bondi Junction’s shops and services, Double Bay’s shopping and waterfront and Paddington’s pubs right next door, you’ll rarely need to go far to get anything you need.
That’s if you want to leave Woollahra at all. With some of Sydney’s best restaurants, pubs and shops you probably won’t need to.
If Woollahra is on your watch list, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today.