BEST of the BUNCH
Residents of Lavender Bay have always known they were living in one of the most picturesque and tranquil locations in Sydney - but now it's official with the Nonh Shore suburb being named 'most liveable' in a recent city-wide survey.
Often referred to as a "hidden gem”, Lavender Bay ticks all the boxes that residents consider most important - including culture, the environment access to cafes and restaurants, education, beaches, parks and gardens, shopping, open space and harbour views.
The lower North Shore takes out the Domain Liveable Sydney 2016's top seven spots - with Milsons Point in second place, followed by McMahons Point, Kirribilli, Wavedon, Wollstonecraft and North Sydney.
The survey, prepared for Fairfax's Domain Group by Tract Consultants and Deloittee Access Economics, ranks 555 suburbs based on 16 indicators.
North Sydney mayor Ally Gibson says while it's no secret the area has an abundance of natural beauty, this new report highlights many other benefits of living there.
“We are fortunate to reside in close proximity to public transport, top-rated schools and employment opportunities as well as enjoying a vast array of popular eateries and small bars," she says.
"We are really spoilt for choice, with many parts of North Sydney boasting fabulous harbour views, a wealth of green space and close-knit communities."
She says all 14 suburbs in the North Sydney region were listed in the top 62.
Our top spots
With its magnificent scenery, Lavender Bay conjures up romantic images of a bygone age in Sydney, while embracing the best of 21st century living.
Its grand Victorian mansions and heritage-listed cottages line the lower North Shore, and are within walking distance from beautiful parks and gardens and a thriving North Sydney CBD.
From the 1850s to 1900, Lavender Bay was a mix of cottage industries and a working waterfront, according to local historian Dr Ian Hoskins. He says the area was inhabited by very well-to-do residents, artisans and also some "scruffy locals".
The area was home to boat builders and master mariners and in the early 1900s to 1920s, many homes were demolished to make way for approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge project.
Lavender Bay is perhaps most well-known now for Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden, which attracts thousands of local, interstate and overseas visitors each year. A tribute to her husband Brett and daughter Arkie, Whiteley has spent the past 20 years transforming the former scrub railway lines into a tranquil sanctuary at the heart of the suburb.
The garden has been a labour of love, with Whiteley not only contributing her own time, but the cost of plants and materials and two full-time gardeners.
MILSONS POINT, MCMAHONS POINT AND KIRRIBILLI
New Year's Eve gives residents and visitors the perfect vantage point to See Sydney's spectacular fireworks display, with thousands of locals and visitors flocking to the shores of Sydney Harbour.
Luna Park and the abundance of cafes and restaurants make these suburbs amongst the most beautiful and liveable in Sydney - especially with their easy access to ferries and buses, education and open spaces.
The name Kirribilli is derived from an Aboriginal word Kiarabilli, which means “good fishing spot". In the early 1800s, the area was largely covered by native bush but gradually Cleared for Victorian terrace houses, which are today part of the old-world charm of the area.
McMahons Point, Waverton, wollstonecraft and North Sydney were all ranked in the top 10 suburbs as 'hard to beat' - as they provide residents access to all the major liveable indicators and to the commercial heart of the area.
LAVENDER BAY'S NEIGHBOURHOOD HUB
Callum Christodoulou has lived in a terrace house in Lavender Bay with six good friends for the past three years. Just a stone's throw away from the harbour foreshore, the 24-year-old international studies and philosophy graduate needs no persuading that it's Sydney's 'most liveable' suburb.
He's so committed to the area that he has started a community group each Saturday morning in a park near Wendy Whiteley's garden.
"This has been a great way to get to know our local community," Callum tells North Shore Living.
"The park atmosphere is very relaxed and it's a mentally peaceful spot - nestled just below the bridge, with parklands, gardens and great cafes."
Callum says he and his flatmates regularly sit on their rooftop on a warm night where they can see the city lights and Luna Park. "You can view everything - but you are still away from it," he adds.
His leisure activities also highlight the close proximity to the water and the bridge. "I ride my bike or run to the Botanic Gardens and canoe along the foreshore as well," he says.
Callum was motivated to organise the Saturday picnic because he and his friends think having a "sense of community" can transform lives.
"So much of modern life can be alienating and isolating but being in an environment where people notice you, where there are little daily acts of kindness and generosity, makes life a whole lot more enjoyable.
"I feel really grateful to live here - it's a jewel," he reflects.