An attempt to visit every suburb in Sydney.

Election season continues! If you're still an undecided voter, this post will not change that, but it may help numb the pain of the e...

2019 Federal Election Special Part 2: Vaucluse


Election season continues! If you're still an undecided voter, this post will not change that, but it may help numb the pain of the election campaign.

Before starting, I'd recommend checking out Part 1 of this mini-series first, where I visited Sydney's Labor-est suburb. Today, I'll be shifting to the other end of politics and heading into Sydney's Liberal-est suburb.

Which suburb had the strongest support for The Liberals?

For the purposes of the 2019 Completing Sydney Election Special, I’ll be looking at data released by the AEC on the last Federal Election back in 2016. The AEC releases results down to the individual polling place, and for this entirely unscientific post, I’m looking at which polling booth had the highest portion of first preference Liberal voters.

Just like last time, I've eliminated the "weird" polling places (such as votes collected in hospitals and in pre-polls) as well as electoral divisions outside of Sydney, to determine my suburb for today.

And without further ado, the polling place with the strongest Liberal turnout in 2016 was in the Eastern suburb of…

Vaucluse

Sitting in the Eastern Suburbs' Wentworth electoral division, the Vaucluse polling place had a staggeringly strong Liberal vote, with 80.7% of voters placing the Liberals first. Apart from the Liberals, more people voted informally at that booth than voted for any other party. Putting it politely, you're unlikely to see Bill Shorten campaigning here.

Since this is the election special, I had the dubious privilege of coming in straight from my previous suburb of Cabramatta. It was a bit of a journey, to say the least.

Eventually, my bus dropped me off on a leafy Vaucluse street.

I wasn't here to waste time, so I went from the bus stop straight to the polling place in question.

This is St Michael's Anglican church. It was built in the 1870s, it's made of sandstone and it's nice looking. Apart from that, it's not particularly interesting other than for the purposes of counting Liberal votes. Indeed, only about 10% of Vauclusians identified themselves as following the Anglican faith in the last census (with "No Religion", Judaism and Catholicism having more representation).

Now, there's no skirting around the fact that Vaucluse is a very wealthy area - among the wealthiest in the country. Average incomes here are approximately double the national average, the average house here is worth about $6million, with plenty that are worth over eight eye-watering figures.

This ain't Cabramatta.

All this meant that I was expecting to see some pretty balling houses on my walk through the suburb.

Unfortunately, once you've got that number of zeros in your net worth, it appears you're much less likely to flaunt it. And so, instead of mega-mansions, helicopter pads and Ferraris, I saw tall fences and fairly regular vehicles in front of houses that look like they're nice on the inside.

A lot of these multi-million dollar homes are priced as such for having backyards with some of Sydney's best views.

This street I was walking on clearly wasn't built with the expectations of pedestrian traffic,

so I took a turn off and started to head down towards the waterside. Perhaps there I can at least enjoy the prime geographic location of Vaucluse, rather than just looking at gates which cost more than the balance of my super.

Further along, a gate leading downhill into a portion of Sydney Harbour National Park was the go.

If you follow along the path, you hit the historic Strickland House, a lovely building in an amazing location and one of the many historical houses dotted through the suburb.

How's that for a backyard?

A precarious walk down the steep hill takes you down to Milk Beach, and postcard views of the city.

Milk Beach is part of the Hermitage Foreshore walk which hugs Vaucluse's west coast and offers great views of the city the entire way. I joined the walk and headed north.

At the northern end of the walk is another historic house,

the sandstone Greycliffe House from 1852. Very nice.

From Greycliffe House, you're a literal stone's throw from the concerningly named Shark Beach.

Sadly, I was running out of sunshine and I still had a bunch of stuff to see in Vaucluse, so I had to keep moving, heading back out onto the street.

On this end of Vaucluse, you can actually see people's houses, rather than just aggressively large fences. Hence, I can only speculate that this is Vaucluse's poor neighbourhood.

It definitely makes for a more inviting walk though.


I thought I was done with the beaches, but then a little further up the road again, I hit one final photogenic beach for the day,

albeit with a bit of an... odour.

My goal was to end my exploration at the east of the suburb, so I rushed my way there with the remaining sunlight in the day, past more elite suburbia,

and a few vertical pedestrian "streets".

Special call out goes to this house for having the softest looking front yard in the history of front yards.

Dat foliage doe.

On the way, I also passed this excessive clump of political boards, featuring the two main players in Vaucluse's electoral division of Wentworth. Somewhat ironically, despite this suburb holding the polling place with 2016's strongest Liberal vote, the current sitting member is independent MP Kerryn Phelps who was voted in following Malcolm Turnbull's post-mortem by-election in 2018. This was the result of an almost 20% swing against the Liberals. It will be interesting to see if the seat as a whole flips back to the Liberals after this election, or if Dr Phelps manages to hold on.

Anyway, election-ad-boulevard leads to this small commercial area. There isn't too much here apart from (understandably) a bottle shop specialising in "fine wines",

and this burger shop which smelled incredible from the street. Sadly, I was expected to be home for dinner today so I had to drag myself away.

Keep going around the corner and you hit perhaps the only modern glass building in all of Vaucluse, this retirement home,

conveniently, it's across the road from this South Head Cemetery.

Of note in the cemetery is the tombstone of Sir Edmund Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister. Cool.

My final destination was this strip of parkland just a short stretch north from the cemetery.

Lucky for me, sunset was looming and the sky began getting a little dramatic. As such, climbing up the bleachers (is bleacher an American term? Do we use it too? I don't know) presented an incredible sunset view of our city.

Also in this park is Macquarie Lighthouse, which is apparently Australia's first lighthouse. It looked bloody magical in this sky.

Where there is a lighthouse, there is always a coast, and as such, this park backs out onto the Tasman Sea.

The final thing in the park (and the suburb for me) are the remains of Signal Hill Battery.

This thing was built in the late nineteenth century as a coastal defence in case of invaders.

Thankfully, it was never required.

Vaucluse: I want to make fun of the rich, but in truth the suburb is bloody beautiful.

So that's the Liberal instalment of the Completing Sydney 2019 Federal Election Special. Is it intelligent political commentary? Nah, not really. Still though, I had fun contrasting two completely different pieces of our wonderful city.

Happy voting everyone, and don't forget to enjoy your democracy sausage.

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