They’re trendy, picturesque, and heritage-filled – but you probably can’t point to these secret suburbs on a map.
Although locals may think they know just about every suburb in Australia’s largest cities, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane have plenty of overlooked and underrated urban pockets.
They’re areas that have been overshadowed by their better-known neighboring suburbs, left off maps, and forgotten – or ignored – by non-residents.
For buyers and investors who aren’t so concerned about name recognition, there are bargains to be found in these hidden gems.
We all know about the bustling beachside ‘burbs of Bondi and Manly, but what about Little Bay?
The sheltered slice of pristine coastline, tucked away 14km southeast of the CBD, attracts far fewer crowds to its golden sands and crystal-clear waters.
Little Bay is just as beautiful as its famous cousins but without the crowds. Picture: Getty
With a median house price of $2.78 million and a median unit price of $820,000, the area is less pricey than better known coastal locales in Sydney, including neighboring Malabar, but offers the same idyllic lifestyle and amenities.
Among the properties currently on the market is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom luxury smart home at 31A Reservoir Street, a short walk from the suburb’s numerous beaches and golf courses.
The brand-new home, designed by Mowa Studio, boasts a range of modern conveniences. The guide price is $2.8 million to $2.9 million.
The stunning architect-designed home is less than you’d pay in a well-known beach suburb nearby. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy
Despite the area’s obscurity, Little Bay has gained a bit of attention over the years, most recently serving as a filming location for the Marvel flick Thor: Love and Thunder.
The suburb even once made global headlines when a 2.4km stretch of coastline was draped in fabric and transformed into the world’s largest public artwork.
Yet its isolation makes it “the hidden gem of the south-eastern suburbs”, NG Farah Real Estate Little Bay agent Peter Goulding said.
“You’re only 25 minutes from the Sydney CBD, but when you get home to your coastal enclave, you feel like you’re down the South Coast,” Mr Goulding said.
Another little-known residential pocket 7km south of the CBD is Daceyville.
Sandwiched between Kingsford and Pagewood, the quiet neighborhood with tree-lined streets was named in honor of Australian soldiers who perished in World War I and World War II.
An original map of the subdivision now known as Daceyville. Picture: NSW State Archives Collection
It’s so tightly held, and dominated by social and affordable housing that rarely sells, that there’s no median house price data available.
In fact, just one property in Daceyville is currently listed on realestate.com.au – a four-bedroom, one-bathroom duplex at 33 Gardeners Road.
The sole home on the market in Daceyville at the moment. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy
More than a century ago, Daceyville was developed as Australia’s first public housing project. There’s still an abundance of social dwellings in the area that aren’t for private sale, Mr Goulding explained.
“A lot of the properties in Daceyville are still owned and controlled by the Housing Department, and a lot of people living in them are second-generation – their families may have moved into their homes after World War II,” he said.
“But that is slowly starting to change. The area is gentrifying, young families are moving in, and eventually there will be higher capital growth in Daceyville than surrounding suburbs, such as Kingsford.”
Princes Park is one of Melbourne’s most iconic sporting and recreation areas, but most of its visitors probably haven’t heard of its close neighbour, Princes Hill.
This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sliver of suburbia, which measures just 0.4sqkm, putting it among Melbourne’s smallest suburbs, has a median house price of $1.84 million, making it less exorbitant than nearby Parkville but more exclusive than Brunswick .
Like Princes Park, Princes Hill is thought to be named after Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, although according to the Carlton Community History Group, the area’s namesake could actually be several royals.
Princes Hill is an historic suburb overflowing with charm. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy
Fittingly, the suburb is home to many historic Victorian terrace houses, such as 105 Wilson Street, which sold for $2,710,000 in May 2021.
Another tiny and little-known inner-city enclave, squeezed between Parkville in the east and Flemington in the west, is Travancore.
Located 5km north-west of the CBD, the suburb takes its name from a former Indian kingdom, with street names such as Delhi Court and Cashmere Street.
Essendon Historical Society local historian Alex Bragiola explained the area owes its name to the 20th century horse trader Henry Madden, who did business in India and christened his sprawling estate Travancore.
Travancore, the stunning estate owned by Henry Madden. Picture: Essendon Historical Society
When the estate was later subdivided, it became the suburb Travancore, and the streets were named after the “cities and towns of India” where Madden built his wealth.
“For many years, the Travancore area was an exclusive part of the suburb of Flemington,” Mr Bragiola said.
“[It’s] a tight little community where families have always held onto their homes.”
Although there’s no median house price data available for Travancore, units and apartments sell for a median of $337,500, making it one of the cheapest suburbs to score an inner-city pad.
This two-bedroom apartment at 1204/18 Mt Alexander Road with sweeping views of nearby parklands, will set a buyer back $340,000.
Until recently, the blue-chip suburb of Kalinga technically didn’t exist.
In 1975, the State Government redrew the boundaries of Brisbane suburbia, and Kalinga was absorbed into neighboring Wooloowin.
Then in 2015, the residents of Kalinga won their years-long fight to have their home turf once again recognized as its own suburb. Although Kalinga is back on the map, few know the leafy, tight-knit community, located 7km north of the CBD, exists.
Locals fought hard for Kalinga to become its own suburb again. Image: Wikimedia Commons
“Kalinga really is such a small pocket of properties, it’s almost a suburb within a suburb,” said the Brisbane buyer’s agent Wendy Russellwho recently bought a home in Kalinga herself.
“I have friends who’ve lived in Brisbane all their lives and they haven’t heard of Kalinga. When I post about it on social media, they say, ‘Where the hell is that?'”
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With a median house price of $1.52 million, the area is less posh than some of Brisbane’s “celebrity suburbs”, such as Ascot and Hawthorne, but still quite exclusive, Ms Russell said.
On the upper end of Kalinga’s housing market at 40 Henry Street is a palatial six-bedroom home boasting no fewer than three fireplaces, with a price guide of over $4.5 million.
Kalinga is home to some extraordinary pieces of real estate, like this one. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy
If Brisbane has a secret garden, it’s Seven Hills.
Located just 5km east of the CBD, the little-known neighbourhood, named after the ancient Seven Hills of Rome, contains a lush 52ha bush reserve, complete with koalas and hiking trails.
With a median house price of $1.56 million, an increase of more than 30% in the past year alone, proximity to nature a short drive from the city doesn’t come cheap.
A five-bedroom family retreat at 6 Karana Street is currently on the market and accepting offers over $1.8 million.
The lush suburb is Brisbane’s secret garden. Picture: Lyle Radford
“When you look up Seven Hills on the map, you’ll miss it if you don’t zoom in close enough,” Ms Russell said.
“Kalinga and Seven Hills are both definitely up there in the suburbs I recommend to buyers and investors, it’s just no one’s heard about them.”