The Hungry Mile

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Wharves on Hickson Rd c.1920

The Hungry Mile is the name harbourside workers gave to the docklands area of Darling Harbour East, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in the Great Depression. Workers would walk from wharf to wharf in search of a job, often failing to find one.[1]

The system of day labour gave rise to similar conditions on many port areas, such as Melbourne's Wailing Wall.

As stevedoring operations moved to ports at Port Botany and Port Kembla, the Government of New South Wales determined that this site should be renewed as an extension of the Sydney CBD with a significant new foreshore park providing recreational areas for a growing Sydney population.[2] This area is being redeveloped into a recreational, business and shopping precinct.

The area was officially known as Millers Point and as part of the urban renewal plans, the State Government reviewed the name in 2006.[3] The Maritime Union of Australia campaigned to renew the "Hungry Mile" name, as an acknowledgement of the site's historical significance to waterside workers. A public competition was held but the name Barangaroo was selected for the new suburb and officially gazetted in 2007. The name honours Barangaroo, an important indigenous woman from Sydney's early history who was a powerful and colourful figure in the colonisation of Australia.[4] She was also the wife of Bennelong, another important indigenous figure after whom Bennelong Point is named, the site of the Sydney Opera House. A section of Barangaroo, Hickson Road between the Munn Street overbridge and the Napoleon Street intersection, was officially designated the Hungry Mile in 2009.[5]

Pop culture[edit]

Barangaroo in the foreground, before shipping buildings were demolished

In 1930 The Hungry Mile was the title of wharfie poet Ernest Antony's most famous poem, in a published collection titled The Hungry Mile and other poems.[6] Memories of the Hungry Mile and Antony's poem became the inspiration for the Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit 1950s film of the same name.[7]


  1. ^ "Union leaders walk the Hungry Mile". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 June 2003. 
  2. ^ Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority - Barangaroo
  3. ^ "Hungry Mile gets minor role". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 September 2006. 
  4. ^ "Barangaroo". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Sydney's Hungry Mile made official". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Ernest Antony and the Hungry Mile". Union Songs. 11 April 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2008. 
  7. ^ "The Hungry Mile". Maritime Union of Australia. 15 November 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2006.