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Looking east: Darling Point and beyond

A look at the lifestyles, attitudes and activities of the people who settled in Darling Point.

Blanche Mitchell

Darling Point society was small and exclusive, made up of some of Sydney's most successful and wealthy individuals. It was said that Darlingpointonians had laws, manners and customs all of their own - liberal laws, graceful manners and pleasant customs. 'Outsiders' were not admitted without some trouble, however once in their circle no-one cared to leave, according to an 1857 article in the Sydney magazine Month.

Social life revolved around families and entertainments such as dinners, balls and concerts. Music was a popular nineteenth century form of entertainment, enjoyed in private homes and concert halls alike. They even had a popular song named after the area, "The Darling Point Polka" was published in the Australian Musical Album for 1863.

[Portrait of Blanche Mitchell, youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Mitchell, c. 1860s / pastel drawing by unknown artist]

Many families intermarried and close friendships developed amongst residents. "There was a snug coterie of society... at Darling and Potts Point and the South Head Road which had something more than the ordinary, loose, cold-hearted friendship, which commonly binds what is called 'society' together", wrote Nehemia Bartley in the 1890s.

Blanche Mitchell (1843–1869), youngest daughter of surveyor-general Sir Thomas Mitchell and Lady Mitchell, enjoyed a privileged upbringing, growing up at Carthona, Darling Point.

Her family later moved to Craigend Terrace, Woolloomooloo, living in reduced circumstances following the death of her father in 1855.

Blanche kept childhood diaries and notebooks recording her family and social life during 1850–1861. Her diaries give us a lively picture of what life was like at that time for a young girl in fashionable society. She records her close friendships, daily activities and social events in Darling Point and environs. Her days are spent visiting friends such as the Bradleys at Lindesay, attending St. Mark's Church and a dizzying array of social events and activities including balls, dinners and picnics. Even after she moved to Woolloomooloo, she maintained her close links with Darling Point society.

> Read Blanche Mitchell's complete diary online


One of Blanche's early notebooks compiled when she was a child living in Darling Point, contains miscellaneous text and poetry including a sonnet relating to the wild Christmas Bush which grew in profusion along Darling Point Road.

Sonnet of Darling Pt, 25 Dec 1850

Pluck the red Christian bush
Preposterous man,
At theft it needs must blush
You never can -
For him who died upon the blessed cross
It bleeds not, - At this birth
The morning stars did sing
"Joy to the Earth"
Then every tree
Declared this glory
Well may this blush for thee.

Blanche Mitchell died of consumption in 1869, aged twenty-six years old. 

Darling Point Polka


Made possible through a partnership with Belinda Hutchinson AM & Roger Massy-Greene