Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo

A large proportion of workers within Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo village are in the government sector associated with the Royal Australian Navy base at Garden Island.

Other significant employers tend to be service industries such as food and drink, and tourism.

Consequently, worker incomes tend to be moderate but not excessively high. The majority of workers live in inner city locations, resulting in a lower dependence on cars for transport to and from work. 

For more information

Employment by industry

Table 9 summarises the number of workers in the village by the city-based industry sectors. The largest sector within the village by number of workers is the government sector, which is largely influenced by the navy land uses at Garden Island.

This sector employs nearly one-fifth of the total workforce in the village. Other sectors employing significant numbers are tourist, cultural and Leisure and food and drink, employing 16.2% and 14.8% of the total workforce respectively.

Table 9 – Employment by City-Based Industry Sector, 2012

Sector Employment % of Total Employment
Community 413 4.3%
Creative Industries 726 7.6%
Finance and Financial Services 198 2.1%
Food and Drink 1,405 14.8%
Government 1,791 18.8%
Health 951 10.0%
Higher Education and Research 7 0.1%
ICT 167 1.8%
Life Science (Bio-tech) 38 0.4%
Manufacturing 0 0.0%
Motor Vehicle 125 1.3%
Natural Resource-Based Industries 0 0.0%
Other 88 0.9%
Professional and Business Services 852 9.0%
Property Development and Operation 162 1.7%
Retail and Personal Services 389 4.1%
Social Capital 423 4.4%
Tourist, Cultural and Leisure 1,543 16.2%
Transport and Logistics 233 2.4%
Utilities 0 0.0%
Total 9,511 100.0%

Source: Floor Space and Employment Survey, 2012 – City of Sydney

Income of workers

Journey to Work data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has been analysed in Chart 5 below to highlight the weekly personal incomes of those who work in Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo compared to the City of Sydney local area and Metro Sydney. The chart illustrates the village has a higher proportion of workers than the City of Sydney local area in all income brackets below $104,000+, with a significantly lower proportion of workers in this top bracket. This shows the relatively lower share of high income workers within the village, representative of the higher proportion of government and service industry workers within the village.

Chart 5 – Workers' Personal Income (Annual)

Chart 5 – Workers' Personal Income (Annual)

Workers’ place of residence

As show in Chart 6, around 3,000 workers, or 28% of the total village workforce, also live within the City of Sydney. Significant numbers of workers also live in neighbouring council areas including Randwick (7%), Woollahra (5%) and Waverley (4%) revealing a preference of inner city workers to live close to their place of work.

Chart 6 – Workers’ LGA of Residence (Top 10), 2011

Chart 6 – Workers’ LGA of Residence (Top 10), 2011

Workers’ mode of transport

The Journey to Work data can also be used to show the modes of transport used by workers within the village to get to and from their place of work. This has been presented graphically in Chart 7. Due to the inner city location, workers within the village have a relatively low dependence on cars compared to the Metro Sydney average, although more use cars than the City of Sydney local area average. The proportion of workers who use bikes and walk to work within the village is higher than both the City of Sydney and Metro Sydney as a whole.

Chart 7 – Worker Mode of Transport

Chart 7 – Worker Mode of Transport

Location of workers

FES 2012 data has been used in Figure 10 to show the density of workers by block throughout the village. From the map it is apparent that the densest employment areas are along William Street and extend into Kings Cross along Darlinghurst Road and Macleay Street. The dense employment along these corridors predominantly comprise a combination of retail, food and drink, and office employment uses.

Figure 10 – Employment Density

Figure 10 – Employment Density

What does this mean for my business?

Local workers are also often a key customer market for many businesses. In Macleay Street and Woolloomooloo the large number of government workers associated with the naval base operations at Garden Island may suggest some unique opportunities for businesses aimed at catering for these workers.

Many other workers in the village work in service industries themselves, and are likely to have fairly different demands. Analysis of the location and characteristics of the local workforce may assist retail and service providers in determining how best to benefit from this group of customers.

From an employer’s perspective, analysis of the existing village workforce is also useful. The presence of a significant service industry workforce shows that this area already has a significant focus in areas such as tourism and food and drink.


This information has been compiled from various sources. The publisher and contributors accept no responsibility for any injury, loss or damage arising from the use, error or omissions therein. While all care is taken to ensure a high degree of accuracy, users are invited to notify the City of Sydney of any discrepancies. No part of this information, including maps or data, may be reproduced without written permission.

Last updated: Tuesday, 16 June 2015