Awnings which have been graffitied by the public surrounding the works being done on Darling Harbour Convention Centre, Sydney.

Awnings which have been graffitied by the public surrounding the works being done on Darling Harbour Convention Centre, Sydney. Photo: Tamara Dean

The writing is on the wall for the Sydney convention and exhibition centres - and, it seems, for thousands of love-struck Sydneysiders.

Hoardings that have been erected around the Darling Harbour centres as part of their billion-dollar redevelopment this month have been converted into a space for visitors to chalk up their messages of love – and organisers have been "overwhelmed" by the strength of feeling.

An estimated 11,000 public displays of affection to friends, family, partners and pets blossomed across 350 metres of hoarding in the 24 hours from midnight Saturday.

An estimated 11,000 public displays of affection to friends, family, partners and pets blossomed across 350 metres of hoarding in the 24 hours from midnight Saturday

An estimated 11,000 public displays of affection to friends, family, partners and pets blossomed across 350 metres of hoarding in the 24 hours from midnight Saturday. Photo: Tamara Dean

"I've got goosebumps," Cathy Levins-Byrnes, from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, said. "We were all just overwhelmed."

The idea was planned as part of Darling Harbour's "Month of Love" but it has taken on a life of its own.

“Our idea was that we'd set aside a couple of panels for people to write messages to the people they love – but were blown away to find the entire hoarding had been covered in chalked love messages in less than a day."

Work installing the boards will be completed this week, when some of the chalked messages will be removed to make way for signage.

Ms Levins-Byrnes said they will be "playing it by ear" when it comes to deciding when to remove the rest of the messages.

"We'll be leaving it for as long as we can and then it will start to get icky and then you've got to get rid of it in any case," she said.

As for the buildings behind the boards, their departure from Darling Harbour will be far more brutal.

About 70,000 tonnes of concrete and 2000 tonnes of steel will be removed when workers start cutting and methodically dismantling the structures.

Earthmoving equipment has already cleared some of the gardens near the exhibition centre, which was awarded the prestigious Sulman Medal for public architecture in 1989.

The precinct's replacement convention, exhibition and entertainment facilities are due to be completed by the end of 2016.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the erection of the hoardings marked an "important milestone" in the redevelopment of the new precinct.

"Darling Harbour will still be a hive of activity while construction is taking place, with business, events and family activities continuing to take place in the precinct," Mr Stoner said.

While the existing Entertainment Centre will remain open until 2015, Sydney's major exhibitions will now move to the temporary exhibition centre at Glebe Island.

The first event, the Reed Gift Fair, begins on February 15.