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Pandemic pushes city slickers to Queensland country towns


Seeing cities in lockdown was the push Jancine and Steve Harrison needed to pack up and move to Kalbar – a regional Queensland town, population about 2000.

“When the Brisbane lockdowns happened, I just worked from home so it didn’t affect me much, but COVID-19 was definitely the push for us to move,” Ms Harrison said.

“We were looking at what was happening in other cities, with constant lockdowns, and we didn’t want to get caught up in it all so we just thought no, we love the country, so let’s move out there.

“There’s a sense of community in Kalbar that you didn’t really feel in Brisbane … it’s like you really belong somewhere.”

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed a net loss of 11,247 people were recorded in capital cities in the September 2020 quarter as residents rushed to regional areas.

The loss of residents from major cities was the largest quarterly fall on record, double the September 2019 quarter figure of 5631 people.

Queensland University of Technology nursing and paramedicine graduate Morgan Brown made the decision to spend her first year working in Augathella, about 740 kilometres north-west of Brisbane.

“I’m really excited to move to the area. I went and had a look recently and the countryside is just gorgeous,” she said.

“The community is a factor as well when I visited it everyone knew each other by name and that blew me away.”

University of Queensland population geographer and demographer Elin Charles-Edwards was not surprised by the trend of people migrating from the city to the country.

“We expected that COVID-19 would have an impact on internal migration,” Dr Charles-Edwards said.

“It’s hard to separate the reasons for why people are making the move.

“What certainly seems to have evolved is that we are less tied to places of work so the largest group of people moving away from major cities are within the 25- to 44-year-old range, and this is the age group where people can work remotely and have families with kids.

“The real question is whether this is a permanent shift in the population now … whether these regional areas will retain these residents.”

Queensland gained 7237 people from interstate moves, whereas NSW and Victoria saw a net total loss of 7859 residents.

Sunshine Coast real estate agent Alan Nash, of Aspire Estate Agents Sunshine Coast, saw this interstate interest in moving to Queensland firsthand.

“There’s a lot of interest from and properties being sold to Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney residents looking to get away,” he said.

Mr Nash said working from home was a blessing in disguise for many Australians looking to get out of major cities.

“Now that people work from home, they are looking for somewhere they can enjoy as well as work from,” he said.

“The residential market is incredible at the moment. I’ve been doing this job for 11 to 12 years and never seen it like this … we haven’t got a property to rent until April.”



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Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth outstrip Sydney and Melbourne prestige property markets

prestige property markets

The hunt for a house that’s not just a home, but a COVID-free castle, has pushed up prestige property prices in Perth, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, with a new report revealing the three cities outstripped the nation’s two biggest capitals during 2020.

The Knight Frank Wealth Report 2021, released today, also revealed the trio made a global splash in the Prime International Residential Index (PIRI 100), which tracks the movement of luxury home prices across the world’s 100 best residential markets.

Off the back of surging buyer demand, low interest rates and a greater emphasis on lifestyle, the three cities, with Perth in the lead, were ranked in the top 44 of prestige markets, after they each clocked up annual price growth of more than 2.5 per cent.

Sydney was ranked 56 – after prestige home prices grew just 1.1% – while Melbourne came in at 63 after prices rose 0.9 per cent.

A roaring resources sector and a push towards relaxed lifestyle locations saw Perth not just top the national list and rank 34th globally, but dramatically leap from last place among Australian capital cities in 2019 after prestige property prices soared by 3.6 per cent last year.

Luxury home prices in the Western Australian capital had remained almost stagnant the year before, rising by just 0.9 per cent.

The Gold Coast achieved a global ranking of 36 after prices grew by 3.2 per cent – compared to 1.8 per cent growth the year before.


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Gold Coast

Kooralbyn Valley Resort Back on the Market


The owner of the 132-room Kooralbyn Valley integrated resort is offloading the masterplanned community in the Gold Coast hinterland as border openings and regional growth boost investor interest in the area.

Owner of the site Peter Huang said he closed the initial listing in mid 2020 after local cash buyers failed to meet expectations.

This amalgamated iconic resort sits on a massive 327-hectare—808 acre—site with 27 existing lots and 30 existing buildings.

The resort has a potential end value of between $500 million to $2 billion depending on the masterplan.

The original Packer Lodge was built by Peter Ables and Arthur Georges and the 102-room main resort was built by Japanese owner Towa Group in 1980 for about $45 million including land. The resort was used as a hideaway for billionaire Kerry Packer in the ’80s.

All properties are being offered for sale in one line or individually and agents are welcome, said the resort owner Peter Huang of Yong Group.

Like the Hunter Valley, the Kooralbyn Valley is an easy drive for the 3 million local residents from south-east Queensland and the large golf community, and remains a popular international tourist destination.

Huang said the stage 1 subdivision surrounding the golf course and resort was approved but he allowed it to lapse due to the new plan for the large scale over 50s retirement development.

The resort includes a 230-seat restaurant, 240-seat convention centres, three outdoor wedding venues plus The Pavilion Tavern and a private airport and international school buildings.

“It’s truly the one and only corporate asset in Australia ideal for potential public listing or as an addition to a successful investor or fund manager’s existing portfolio,” Huang said.


▲ The championship Kooralbyn golf course

The selling price of the whole portfolio could be much less than the recent sales of the much smaller 25-room Beach Hotel Resort at Byron Bay on 4,585sq m of land at $104 million, the 145-room Vibe Darling Harbour at $108 million and the 172 rooms Primus at $130 million.

The Kooralbyn Valley project has so much more potential with everything you need and dream for with far better income upside from the multiple businesses of the resort, golf course, tavern, international school and other assets.

“[The resort] has far more development profit and potential ongoing income from the massive over-50s retirement masterplan with a lot of upside for capital gains as well.”

“The eventual workforce from the nearby largest inland port of Australia—the Bromelton Estate could reach 35,000 jobs, according to the state government,” Huang said.


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Gold Coast

Kirra: The relaxed Gold Coast neighbourhood with ‘old-town charm’


Australians are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a favourite place on the sand by the waves. But while beach lovers tend to flock to well-known haunts like Noosa and Byron Bay, there are a host of beaches that are just as good, if not better.

One of these undiscovered gems is Kirra, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Not nearly as busy as Surfer’s Paradise or Burleigh Heads, Kirra is the quieter southern sister of nearby tourist destinations.

Kirra’s reputation as a relaxed holiday spot makes it the perfect setting for a new beachfront development. Set to add a contemporary sheen to the beachside hamlet, Miles Residences will house 118 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments designed by architects Woods Bagot.

Many know it as the redevelopment of the former Kirra Beach Hotel site, which was one of the Gold Coast’s most popular watering holes.

Views from the new apartment building will take in Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta and Snapper Rocks, plus the Gold Coast hinterland.

Tippi Oberman, the owner of Tupe-Aloha bar and restaurant, says the development is bound to bring more customers and residents to Kirra’s shores.

“It’s ready for a change and for more people to come here, so I think it’s going to be amazing,” she says.

With live music, taco Tuesdays and happy hour on Sundays, Tupe-Aloha specialises in Americana food and is a favourite with all ages.

In the seven years since opening her eatery, Oberman has watched the beachside town grow and more young families move into the area.


Miles Residences is set to add a contemporary sheen to the beachside hamlet. Photo: KTQ Group

Tippi Oberman, the owner of Tupe-Aloha bar and restaurant, says the development is bound to bring more customers and residents to Kirra’s shores.

“It’s ready for a change and for more people to come here, so I think it’s going to be amazing,” she says.

With live music, taco Tuesdays and happy hour on Sundays, Tupe-Aloha specialises in Americana food and is a favourite with all ages.

In the seven years since opening her eatery, Oberman has watched the beachside town grow and more young families move into the area.

“People appreciate how magical it is down here,” she says. “Our beaches are beautiful. It’s not nearly as hectic as Surfers and Broadbeach. And it’s good for people who come up from Sydney and Melbourne because it’s just one minute from the airport.

“Where else can you live where you can jump off a plane and put your flip flops on and take the city pace off and have a few beers at the surf clubs, walk around the point, watch the sunset at Rainbow Bay and walk on back? It’s just awesome.”

Kirra is a beachside neighbourhood within the suburb of Coolangatta, where the average unit price is $600,000. Domain statistics show the price has risen by 3.4 per cent in the 12 months to February this year.


The former Kirra Beach Hotel site is undergoing a transformation. Photo: KTQ Group

It reflects Kirra’s increasing popularity and affordability – the median unit price in nearby Burleigh Heads is $900,000 and next door in Bilinga it’s $705,000.

Prices at Miles Residences start at $545,000 for one-bedroom apartments and $795,000 for two-bedroom apartments. The properties have sold quickly with 75 purchased in two months, says Tim Keenan, director of property sales agency Keenan & Co.

“The southern Gold Coast itself is going off at the moment,” he says. “In general the shift has happened with COVID and I think people really want an alternative to major capital living.

“Kirra still has it’s old-town charm and community, but it will soon have this beautiful building and retail spaces that are really going to change the face of it in a really positive and beautiful manner.”

To complement Kirra’s north-facing beaches, Miles Residences will feature a 25-metre pool and sun deck on the third level overlooking the beach.

The new hotel and retail spaces beneath the apartment tower will be designed by Technē Architecture and Interior Design.


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