Darling Harbour is a harbour adjacent to the city centre of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia that is made up of a large recreational and pedestrian precinct that is situated on western outskirts of the Sydney central business district.
Originally named Long Cove, the locality extends northwards from Chinatown, along both sides of Cockle Bay to King Street Wharf on the east, and to the suburb of Pyrmont on the west. Cockle Bay is just one of the waterways that makes up Darling Harbour, which opens north into the much larger Port Jackson.
Darling Harbour is named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, who was Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831. The area was originally known as Long Cove, but was generally referred to as Cockle Bay until 1826 when Governor Darling renamed it after himself. The name Cockle Bay has recently been restored in reference to the headwaters of the harbour. It was originally part of the commercial port of Sydney, including the Darling Harbour Railway Goods Yard. During the Great Depression, the eastern part of Darling Harbour (Barangaroo) became known as The Hungry Mile, a reference to the waterside workers searching for jobs along the wharves.
Much of the land had been the site of the NSW Railways central marshalling yards and freight consolidation centre. The Enquiry into the NSW industry, including rail/road competition (1978–80), under Commissioner Gavan McDonell, found that this centre was inefficient, should be moved, and the land used for other public purposes. These recommendations were acted upon and by the mid-to-late 1980s, when the area had become largely derelict it was redeveloped as a pedestrian and tourist precinct as an initiative of then New South Wales Minister for Public Works, Laurie Brereton. The Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour was a venue of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games and a key meeting venue of APEC Australia 2007.
On 26 January 1994, Charles III then Prince of Wales, was giving a speech during the Australia Day celebrations. David Kang ran at the Prince whilst firing two blanks before falling onto the ground and being promptly held and arrested. The Prince was unhurt and was ushered off the podium. 
Darling Harbour has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
The Darling Harbour precinct is home to a number of major public facilities and attractions, including:
- Cockle Bay Wharf (restaurants, bars and Home nightclub - one of Australia's largest nightclubs)
- IMAX Sydney theatre (part of The Ribbon building)
- Paddy's Markets
- Chinese Garden of Friendship
- Tumbalong Park
- Darling Quarter Playground and cafes
- Australian National Maritime Museum (featuring museum ships including HMAS Vampire)
- The Star Casino & Entertainment Complex
- The Darling Hotel & Spa
- Powerhouse Museum
- Sydney Aquarium
- Madame Tussauds
- Sydney Wildlife World
- Aboriginal Centre
- International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), opened in December 2016
- Darling Square (modern complex of specialty shops, eateries and bars in South Darling Harbour and features Darling Square Library)
- Harbourside Shopping Centre, which included Kingpin Bowling Alley (the only bowling alley in Darling Harbour), M9 Laser Skirmish, as well as Australia's first retail Jet flight simulator; closed for redevelopment since Spring 2022.
Darling Harbour is accessible via various modes of public transport. The precinct is served by the Inner West Light Rail of Sydney's light rail network, with access via Paddy's Markets, Convention, Exhibition and Pyrmont Bay stations. Ferry wharves including Barangaroo and Pyrmont Bay provide access to the Pyrmont Bay ferry services to Circular Quay and other suburbs while the Barangaroo wharf also provides access to the Parramatta River ferry services. King Street Wharf is accessible by private boat charters. The Goods Line is a park and pedestrian pathway connecting Darling Harbour to Railway Square and Central station. The nearest train station is Town Hall.
Proposed Metro station
East Darling Harbour has been part of a large urban renewal development. Plans for the 18-hectare (44-acre) site include half business and residential developments, while the other half to be reserved for open public space. The state government of NSW declared plans for "Globe Street", a street designed to become Australia's and Asia Pacific's centre for corporate trade (styled on New York's Wall Street district). The urban renewal development was expected to be completed by 2020. East Darling Harbour is now known as a part of the Barangaroo precinct.
The Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre site was replaced by the new International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), opened in December 2016. The new site includes a 40,000-square-metre (430,000 sq ft) exhibition facility, and was developed by a consortium comprising AEG Ogden, Lend Lease, Capella Capital and Spotless Facilities Services, with AEG Ogden playing the role of venue operator. Other new facilities within the Darling Harbour region include the recently opened ICC Theatre, an 8,000 seat mixed purpose venue for concerts and intimate shows, replacing the Sydney Entertainment Centre, a gallery, and an upcoming new 25 story multi purpose venue called The Ribbon which will be replacing the IMAX Theatre which was closed and demolished in late 2016, which was reopened on 11 October 2023 with a new, updated theatre.
This area was the site of the Sydney Port Authority and featured an Overseas Passenger Terminal (Wharf 8) which was mainly used by the Pacific Dawn of the P&O Australia fleet and the Sun Princess, operated by Princess Cruises. The passenger terminal is now in White Bay and the container terminal has since closed.
In popular culture
Darling Harbour is the location of the season residence on MTV's reality TV show, The Real World: Sydney, which aired in late 2007. The house has a large "Darling Harbour" sign along its edge, and the World Tower high rise building can be seen behind it.
Seven's Saturday morning TV Music Show Eclipse Music TV is filmed weekly at the precinct's shopping centre, Harbourside.
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