All eyes are on the bride, but often it’s the bridesmaids who really steal the show with understated elegance, poise and the freedom to have a good time with far fewer laced-up expectations.
And so it is with some of our favourite traditional holiday house destinations.
Demand has been so high for homes in many of them, particularly through the COVID-19 diaspora, prices have shot to the stars, putting many out of our pay grades.
So if you’ve fallen in love with Byron but can’t quite afford her? Check out nearby Lennox Head. You’d relish making a new life with Daylesford, but she’s just too pricey? Take a look at her attendant Kingston. And Noosa has stolen your heart but she could steal far too much of your income too? Then Mooloolaba could be the gal for you.
While these bridesmaid towns might not have as high a profile as the big, splashy stars of the region, they can more than make up for it with scenery that’s just as gorgeous, plenty of laid-back cafes and far cheaper prices.
When your heart says Byron, your pocket could say … Lennox Head
NSW’s Byron Bay … a playground for the bold, the beautiful and, these days, billionaires.
There’s been an incredible 51 per cent surge in the median house price over the last year, and a leap of over 120 per cent in the last five years, to a new all-time high of $1.96 million on Domain Group figures.
While we all adore the town for its stunning setting and cool, beachy vibe, that puts it out of the reach of many. So how about Lennox Head, just 20 minutes south, instead?
There, the median house price is a staggering 30 per cent lower, at a median of $1.14 million, having risen by 38 per cent on the last year, and 57 per cent – less than half of Byron’s rise – over the last five.
“So it offers a great alternative to Byron,” said Elders Real Estate Lennox Head agent Nick Bordin, who’s currently selling a two-bedroom home at 4/42 Byron Street, Lennox Heads, for $880,000 to $910,000.
“It has the same kind of laid-back surf lifestyle that most people in Bryon probably enjoyed 15 to 20 years ago but it just doesn’t have the traffic or the crowds. At the same time, though, it’s still got first-class restaurants, shopping and bars that are just as good as any you’d find in Byron.”
When your heart says Daylesford, your pocket could say … Kingston
Victoria’s Daylesford, in Hepburn, has seen a remarkable rise in its fortunes. Its median house price has risen 82.9 per cent since 2016, and 42.7 per cent in the last year to $800,000. “Some people have tripled their money in just two and a half years,” said Kim McQueen of McQueen Real Estate.
Instead, she suggested looking at nearby Kingston for a good buy, with many of the same pluses, and considerably lower prices.
“It’s a gorgeous little village, only 10 minutes from Daylesford, and very, very pretty with lovely views of the hills and pastoral lands,” Ms McQueen said. “It has a fabulous main street too and one of the oldest pubs in the area that’s just reopened.”
35A Ocean View Avenue, Mooloolaba QLD 4557
At the moment, she has a two-bedroom-plus-study cottage in Kingston for sale, at 422 Kingston Road, complete with a white picket fence and picturesque gardens.
Its price guide is $720,000 to $760,000. “But if the same cottage was in Daylesford it could easily be $900,000,” she said.
When your heart says Noosa, your pocket could say … Mooloolaba
We all know and love Sunshine Beach in Noosa, Queensland, but she only has eyes for the most well-heeled of suitors, having posed a current median house price of a staggering $2.2 million, up 161.1 per cent in the last five years.
But if that’s beyond your means, then try somewhere else on the Sunshine Coast that can offer just about as much of everything, like Mooloolaba, 50 kilometres south.
It has gorgeous beaches, including its main Mooloolaba Beach – recently voted the sixth-best beach in the country – over 100 cafes, restaurants and bars, and a host of outdoor activities.
In addition, it’s only 15 minutes from the Sunshine Coast Airport and an hour’s drive from Brisbane.
“It’s absolutely perfect, and locals all like it more than Noosa,” said Sarah Roberts of Define Property Agents. “It’s a magical place, really. There’s so much to do and see – and eat – and it’s so much more affordable than Noosa.”
In fact, it’s less than half-price, with its median now sitting at $1.075 million. Roberts has a home for sale, a three-bedroom duplex at 35A Oceanview Avenue, Mooloolaba, just a short stroll to the beach, for offers over $1.1 million.
When your heart says Kiama, your pocket could say … Mount Pleasant
The NSW south-coast town of Kiama has been a stellar performer over the past year, with a 44.1 per cent rise in the median price to an astounding $1.305 million, up 72.8 per cent over the last five years.
Many of the nearby areas like Gerringong and Gerroa have gone up by similar amounts too, making bargains on the south-coast surroundings hard to find, and listings few in places inland.
So those in the know suggest travelling 40 minutes north, back towards Sydney to find a nice spot close to the beach, with a lower median price. Mount Pleasant is one option, with a median price of $900,000.
“It would be a great place to choose,” said Troy McNeice of agents Molenaar and McNeill in Wollongong. “It’s an area that’s quite secluded, a 10-minute drive to Towradgi Beach, and a short drive into the city of Wollongong. It’s peaceful but still close to everything, and a great family place, with a lovely relaxed feel.”
One home for sale there is a five-bedroom house at 188 Brokers Road, for sale with a guide of $1.4 million to $1.5 million.
When your heart says Port Elliot, your pocket could say … Victor Harbor
South Australia’s scenic Port Elliot on the south coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula is a favourite of everyone who knows it.
A dreamy little seaside town, sitting on the splendid Horseshoe Bay, it’s been one of the state’s standout performers of the last few years, with a median price now at $575,000 but with waterfront homes easily hitting the $2 million mark.
But a cheaper alternative is only a jump, hop and skip away, at Victor Harbor itself, which has risen healthily from a lower base to hit a median much lower at $475,000.
A cute 1800s two-bedroom whaler’s cottage at 31 George Main Road is for sale for $420,000, through Angie Hooper of South Coast Realty.
“We might be underselling it, who knows?” she said. “But Victor Harbor is a lovely alternative to Port Elliot. It’s got lots of lovely little beaches, there are bike rides and walks, wineries nearby and it’s a great place to relax. It’s just wonderful.”
When your heart says Broome, your pocket could say … Derby
Western Australia’s resort town of Broome has seen its prices rise by 33.6 per cent over the last year, as a result of being the state’s most popular destination.
Its median house price of $581,000 might seem small change for some living in Byron Bay or Sydney, but it feels like a small fortune to locals.
Many consider the nearest town, the Kimberley gateway of Derby, to be a more affordable alternative. Its median price is considerably lower – less than half of Broome’s – at $264,500.
“It’s a good place to buy a home if you can’t afford Broome,” said local agent Tony Hutchinson, of Hutchinson Real Estate, who sells property in both towns. “A lot of people love Derby. It’s close to the Gibb River Road, and it offers great barramundi fishing.
“There’s also a good hospital and it’s a laid-back kind of place. The only thing it’s missing, really, is the beach. Broome has Cable Beach; Derby has mudflats. It really can’t compete there.”
Currently, he’s selling a three-bedroom house at 6 Archer Street, Derby, for $275,000.