CALL OF THE SOUTH

The far south coast of NSW has been an undis­cov­ered gem, but that may be about to change

The Weekend Australian - Life - - PROPERTY - SA­MAN­THA HUTCHIN­SON

Talk­ing to The Week­end Aus­tralian over a latte, the Syd­ney east­ern sub­urbs PR agent was un­equiv­o­cal. “By­ron Bay’s over. Every­one is head­ing south.” She was be­ing lit­eral. Fed up with the hordes over­run­ning By­ron Bay through­out high sum­mer and be­yond, the smart set is choos­ing the NSW far south coast and the climes of Na­rooma, Tilba Tilba and Ber­magui for their sum­mer so­journ. And in­creas­ingly they’re head­ing there in win­ter too.

Justin Hemmes is a home­owner, while Syd­ney ar­chi­tect Nick To­bias has been hol­i­day­ing there for years. More are com­ing, with agents in the area not­ing a steady up­lift in the num­ber of pres­tige homes sell­ing and the num­ber com­ing on to the mar­ket.

“A lot of peo­ple choose to buy homes down there be­cause they want to get a bit off the road, and they want a pri­vate get­away,” Whale Coast real es­tate agent David Nolan says. The Syd­ney-based agent hol­i­days near Na­rooma ev­ery year, not be­cause that’s where his work is but be­cause he is one of the thou­sands to pro­fess the re­gion is “the most beau­ti­ful place on earth”.

“Na­rooma lit­er­ally means ‘blue water’ and you look at the ad­ver­tis­ing ma­te­ri­als and peo­ple think the colour has been re­touched, when it hasn’t at all,” he says.

“It’s just pris­tine and the type of place that still feels like a proper beach town. You can walk around with your shoes off and no one will think twice, there’s a sense that there aren’t many places left like it.”

A qui­eter cousin to NSW’s By­ron Bay and Vic­to­ria’s Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, the NSW far south coast is about 4½ hours from Syd­ney and eight hours from Mel­bourne. It is best known for its windswept beaches, punc­tu­ated by dra­matic rock for­ma­tions, and sleepy towns still an­chored by old-fash­ioned gen­eral stores and 1960s-style recre­ation and golf clubs.

Nolan chose the area for its laid-back vibe, the end­less beaches to choose from and a long ac­tiv­i­ties list that keeps the fam­ily oc­cu­pied. New­com­ers to the area may be at­tracted by the re­gion’s pro­duce, in­clud­ing some of Aus­tralia’s best oys­ters, shell­fish and seafood, he says, while oth­ers are likely to give the area a sec­ond look be­cause of its im­proved trans­port links to Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

Moruya and Mer­im­bula air­ports are within 40 min­utes’ drive of Na­rooma, and each of­fers daily and some­times twice-daily flights to Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

The grow­ing flight fre­quency is one fac­tor Nolan be­lieves has driven the grow­ing in­ter­est in the area. A grad­ual up­lift in mil­lion-dol­lar sales also is catch­ing the at­ten­tion of well-heeled city-based buy­ers.

Syd­ney hote­lier Hemmes set a bench­mark in the area late last year when he paid a re­ported $6.7 mil­lion for the Glasshouse Rocks es­tate on the beach­front at Na­rooma.

In nearby Tilba Tilba, To­bias gar­nered praise and turned the at­ten­tion of the de­sign crowd to the tiny ham­let with the much-lauded ren­o­va­tion of a 60s-style home into a sleek multi-gen­er­a­tional beach re­treat for his fam­ily. It sits on a rolling hill slop­ing down to a windswept beach.

While some cite im­proved ac­ces­si­bil­ity as a draw­card, oth­ers have pointed to a grow­ing events cal­en­dar that is at­tract­ing more and more vis­i­tors.

Aside from main­stays in­clud­ing Na­rooma’s Great South­ern Blues Fes­ti­val, a packed line-up of horse rid­ing, rac­ing and polocrosse events, and quaint tra­di­tions in­clud­ing the Oys­ter Fes­ti­val, new ar­rivals such as the Four Winds Fes­ti­val of clas­si­cal and world mu­sic can see vis­i­tor num­bers spike to more than 15,000 for a sin­gle event, while Tilba’s Easter Fes­ti­val at­tracts more than 10,000 vis­i­tors each year.

“Some­thing is hap­pen­ing all year round and I sup­pose that’s the dif­fer­ence,” Nolan says. “It’s no longer seen purely as a sum­mer des­ti­na­tion.”

Prop­erty prices in the re­gion have stayed rel­a­tively flat dur­ing the past two years, ac­cord­ing to Core Logic RP Data, with this year’s me­dian sale price sit­ting at $385,000 com­pared with av­er­ages of $378,000 and $374,000 dur­ing the past two years. Turnover also has tracked side­ways, with 35 homes sell­ing last year, down from 36 in 2014 and a long-term high of 42 in 2013.

Yet agents have been buoyed by a flurry of pres­tige sales. A wa­ter­front par­cel on the Old High­way fetched $1.7m just be­fore Christ­mas, sell­ing to the Costin fam­ily. Span­ning al­most 2ha, the es­tate in­cluded a fivebed­room home set among ma­ture gar­dens slop­ing gen­tly down to the water and a jetty.

In April the Peachey fam­ily paid $1.025m for a 2ha es­tate be­side the Old High­way near Na­rooma. The lav­ish four-bed­room home at the cen­tre of the prop­erty in­cludes high ceil­ings and views across rolling hills to Mon­tague Is­land. Out­side are for­mal gar­dens and a sprawl­ing re­sort-style pool and bar­be­cue area.

A string of prop­er­ties now on the mar­ket will add to the multi-mil­lion-dol­lar sale list.

Nolan is mar­ket­ing Sil­ver­mere Farm, a rolling es­tate and work­ing sheep and cat­tle farm with ex­pec­ta­tions of fetch­ing more than $4.75m.

Set on 124ha about 10 min­utes from Na­rooma and Tilba Tilba, the wa­ter­front prop­erty fea­tures a strik­ing ar­chi­tect-de­signed home, guest ac­com­mo­da­tion and a man­ager’s res­i­dence, sur­rounded by pad­docks run­ning An­gus cows and calves and Dor­per ewes and lambs.

Nowra-based ar­chi­tect Colin Ir­win at 1 Ar­chi­tec­ture de­signed the home in a series of wave-in­spired pods, with views from ev­ery room out to the es­tu­ary and the open ocean.

Other pres­tige homes on the mar­ket in­clude a Cape Cod-in­flu­enced four-bed­room home on the wa­ter­front at 3B Hill­crest Lane, Na­rooma, with a wrap­around ve­randa look­ing to the Wagonga In­let, cathe­dral ceil­ings and a mod­ern, gourmet kitchen with stain­less steel and Euro­pean fit­tings.

‘You can walk around with your shoes off and no one will think twice, there’s a sense that there aren’t many places left like it’ DAVID NOLAN

Sil­ver­mere Farm, above, a rolling es­tate and work­ing sheep and cat­tle farm, is ex­pected to fetch more than $4.75 mil­lion. On 124ha, the wa­ter­front prop­erty fea­tures a strik­ing ar­chi­tect-de­signed home, guest ac­com­mo­da­tion and a man­ager’s res­i­dence, sur­rounded by pad­docks.

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