With a $10m splash, will The Block make its money back?

Channel 9 launch their Upfront and Personal content for 2017 at the Star Casino Sydney.Pictured are the Block presenter Shelley Craft and Scott Cam8th November 2016.Photo: Steven Siewert
SuZhou Night Recruitment

The Block: Will and Karlie win and take home $815,000Why relocating a house can be a cheaper optionThe rejuvenation of Port Melbourne starts on The Block

Work has already started on the Elsternwick site chosen for the coming season of The Block, with the project expected to yield the most expensive homes on the reno series yet.

Five period houses are likely earmarked for the 2989-square-metre vacant block at 46 Regent Street, and each could fetch about $3.5 million.

The producers are also taking it up a notch by paying about $4 million more than the previous highest-priced Block site ??? $6.25 million to secure the former Hotel Saville in South Yarra.

Land title documents show a company linked to Channel Nine, with Nine chief executive Hugh Marks listed as one of the directors, forked out $10.34 million for the vacant Elsternwick site, which settled in January. Filming is reportedly due to start in late April.

Julian Cress, co-creator and executive producer of The Block, declined to comment.

A price at auction in the vicinity of $3.5 million would easily leapfrog the highest price paid on the 2016 season finale in Port Melbourne, when the apartment renovated by winners Will Bethune and Karlie Cicero sold for $2.6 million at auction.

Rather than rejuvenating an old building like previous years, contestants this season are likely to renovate a relocated weatherboard home.

Tradesmen have been spotted digging holes and measuring parts of the site.

Setting aside renovation and other costs, the producers are looking to make about $7.16 million from the project this season.

It would match the profit made in Port Melbourne, when five luxury apartments in a former rundown soap factory ??? which cost producers about $5 million ??? netted a total of about $12.05 million at auction.

And the margin would double the $3.6 million made by the Blocktagon apartments.

This year the show will also come with a new set of challenges.

Regent Street was located in the Elsternwick Heritage overlay area, Glen Eira council director of planning and place Ron Torres said, so a planning permit was required to demolish or construct a building.

A plan to open a private boys’ school campus on the vacant site, formerly a low-rise nursing home, was abandoned by the vendor, Yesodei HaTorah College, after community outrage. At a council meeting in 2010, singer and local resident Kate Ceberano argued the proposed school would ruin the neighbourly atmosphere of Elsternwick.

The previous owner, a developer, bought the site with intention to build townhouses, but that plan, too, faced backlash from residents, Biggin and Scottdirector Bill Stavrakis said.

Domain Group data shows the land, which sold for $3 million in 2006 before selling again for $4,785,000 in 2010, tripled in value over the past decade. Nine is likely to have a premium to secure the site. It marks a return to the show’s original premise of home renovation – the last season to feature homes, as opposed to apartments, was in 2013 in Bondi.

Mr Stavrakis said the vacant block would be most suited for period homes, which would involve relocating a property from elsewhere in the state.

Though it was difficult to pinpoint a price range without a plan, he said the renovated houses would be worth about $3.5 million.

“Period homes in Elsternwick are selling for anywhere between $2.5 million and $5 million in the last 12 months,” Mr Stavrakis said, adding that $3.5 million could buy a four to five-bedroom home on about 500 to 650 square metres.

Hodges Caulfieldauctioneer Oren Flamm expects the Elsternwick houses to attract more prospective buyers than the apartments in previous seasons.

Compared with the limited stock of period homes in Elsternwick, he said Port Melbourne and Prahran had a large supply of apartments.

“Elsternwick is a highly sought-after area, it’s very trendy, and the homes that usually yield the best prices are the Victorian period-style homes, renovated to the highest standards,” Mr Flamm added.

In the past, The Block apartments in South Yarra and Port Melbourne have been targeted by owner-occupiers and investors.

Bethune and Cicero’s apartment at 1/164 Ingles Street, Port Melbourne, has recently been leased for $850 a week.

Read more

Riverside property offers winery and lifestyle change

A country lifestyle on the Murrumbidgee River close to Canberra, with a limitless supply of wine makes for a compelling tree change option.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

This magnificent 80-hectare Wallaroo property offers a kilometre of river frontage, a sprawling four-bedroom home, a winery and cafe.

Brindabella Hills Winery offers new owners a wide range of lifestyle and business development opportunities.

Homeowners Faye and Roger Harris, both with science backgrounds, bought the property in 1987 as part of a passion to grow vines.

“It was just sheep grazing country back then, but there was some good soil that could sustain grapes and that’s what we were after,” Faye says.

“We experimented with pinot noir, shiraz, riesling, chardonnay and sangiovese.”

And they had success with their wines earning up to five stars from respected critic, James Halliday.

The house was built first, followed by the 600-square-metre winery in 1989 with Roger as winemaker on the back of an oenology degree. Cellar door sales were later introduced and around 2012 the cafe was opened.

Both businesses are now leased to third parties as the Harrises move toward retirement.

Faye says the property has given them an enviable lifestyle, but they had certainly worked hard to realise their vision.

“It’s been a great place to live. One of our boys still loves to have a fish on the river and catches some big Murray River cod and perch,” she says.

“Business-wise, there are a number of options for a new owner.”

Faye says the winery is a popular event venue for weddings and the function side of the business could definitely be expanded.

There is also potential for bed and breakfast accommodation to be developed.

Mark Johnstone of Ray White Belconnen says the main attraction of the property was two-fold.

“There’s the lifestyle aspect. It’s a great tri-level home with four bedrooms and a study, spacious living areas, all packaged within an aspect that has fabulous views over the river and of the surrounding Brindabella ranges,” he says.

“Then there’s the business aspect with some five hectares under vine that annually produces 15 to 20 tonnes of grapes.”

Johnstone says interest in the unique property has been running high with a variety of potential purchasers.

“It’s got broad appeal. I’ve had enquiries from people in the wine industry, those interested in rural properties, and those who live in the area and love the river frontage,” he says.

Read more

The Melbourne business bringing back one of the ’70s biggest trends

Indoor plants black thumbs can keep aliveHow to decorate and style indoor plantsFive house plants you can’t kill
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Indoor plants, the zeitgeist suggests, are having a moment.

Pots of miniature succulents are sprouting on the tabletops of hipster cafes from Sydney to San Francisco; inner-city twenty-somethings are flocking to terrarium classes to create miniature, glass-encased landscapes of ferns and moss; and a profusion of picture-perfect interiors brimming with lush green foliage is showing up on Instagram and Pinterest.

The humble houseplant is enjoying its biggest revival since the 1970s, and this renewed love for all things leafy has resulted in the creation of design-led businesses, from nurseries to florists and botanical-wares boutiques.

Once such company is Melbourne’s Ivy Muse, created by friends Jacqui Vidal and Alana Langan who are, in many ways, responsible for making leafy greens Insta-worthy.

The n business, started in 2014, produces powder-coated steel plant stands, slip-cast plant pots and other homewares for green thumbs.

Vidal believes that the revival of the indoor plant is being driven by the trend towards high-density living in urban areas. “It’s about making your indoor space feel like home, even if you don’t have an outdoor space or big backyard,” she says.

Langan says the popularity of Scandinavian-style interiors, with their emphasis on neutral colours, clean lines and stripped-back simplicity, is another factor.

“Greenery is a great way to soften a look or a room or a space,” she says. “It also reminds us of our connection to the outdoors.”

Ivy Muse’s plant stands draw inspiration from the mid-century versions often spied in interiors of the 1950s and ’60s, but they are modern interpretations designed with 21st century interiors in mind.

Their silhouettes have a contemporary twist and colour palettes range from neutral black, white and grey to bold shades of electric blue and mustard yellow.

At any given time, the business only offers the current and second-to-current collections, and they seek out collaborations with local artisans such as leather-crafter Jess Cameron-Wootten and glass artist Amanda Dziedzic.

Interior designer Juliette Arent, of Sydney-based firm Arent & Pyke, says a “tumbled pot of trailing succulents”, such as a silver falls or string of pearls, or a large pot to showcase a palm or monstera, add to the mood of a room.

“Just as the architecture influences the interiors, the interior and exterior vistas influence the amount of greenery required,” Arent says.

Trends for certain species such as the fiddle leaf fig come and go, but the appeal of the once humble pot plant transcends the vagaries of fashion.

“I don’t think plants can get over-exposed,” says Langan. “They’re like us – all unique – whether it’s a blemish or how the leaves are configured.”

Verdant shades are popular this year for all aspects of the home.

To contrast lush plants, stylists Heather Nette King and Bree Leech splashed on Dulux’s Army Fatigues (opposite) for the paint company’s 2017 trend report.

Dulux’s colour forecaster Andrea Lucena-Orr says the mid-tone green is adaptable and easy to live with.

“This works beautifully with timbers, rich textiles and natural elements including luscious greenery and contrasting decorative pots,” she says.


Think creatively about the shape of the plant. For example, long, trailing plants such as heart leaf philodendrons or devil’s ivy can be placed up high and trained across the wall along wooden wall dots or framed artworks.

Kitchens are a great place for indoor plants because they generally have a good amount of natural light. Good spots to put plants include the kitchen island and/or open shelving, but if you’re short on space there’s always the top of the fridge.

Bathrooms tend to have smaller windows and, as a consequence, less natural light, making it a difficult environment for many species for indoor plants. Spanish moss or air plants can be a good option – but if you’re really limited in terms of natural light, consider a peace lily.

Put your plants somewhere prominent. You’ll get to enjoy them more and your plants will get better care if you see them regularly.

Plants can do a great job at keeping the air clean in your home. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one plant per 10 square metres of living space.

Read more

Firsts, fiction, and fr-omances

News Review. Lunch with Gabrielle Tozer, young adult author. Photograph by Edwina Pickles. Taken on 8th March 2017. Photo: Edwina PicklesMany people are happy to leave the uncertainty of their teens behind. But award-winning young adult author Gabrielle Tozer – now about to publish her third and most difficult novel – keeps going back for more.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

“It is such a messy exciting time,” she says. “One of the reasons I like young adult fiction so much is that it explores so many firsts.”

“Everything you feel, you feel a thousand times over, and I love that intensity.”

Tozer’s novels cover first jobs, new loves, big decisions, the agony of indecision and uncertainty (Should I stay or go? Does he like me?), peer pressure – and lots of kissing.

“I seem to choose things that I want teenagers to know on another level, without beating them over the head. Themes that let teenagers know who they are. They’re almost reassuring; ‘You are doing great, keep going’,” she says, over lunch at the new waterfront dining precinct at Barangaroo.

Since finishing her second novel, Faking It, Tozer has also opened up about her own problems with anxiety which was diagnosed two years ago.

“It is something that I have had to work on because there was a point after Faking It where I had got myself into such a muddle with anxiety, and my stress, and it was affecting every area of my life, my work, my marriage, and how often I was seeing my friends.”

Now 32, Tozer says she probably suffered from anxiety at high school, where she always pushed herself to do more than she needed. Since her early 20s, undiagnosed anxiety had manifested as stomach pains or a sore jaw, or bursting into tears at the doctor’s.

“It took me multiple times, going back, and nothing really changing for me to finally go, enough is enough … I had to decide: Is this worth it? I wanted to be a writer but at what cost?” she says.

“And I didn’t want to buy into the whole idea of being a tortured artist to create art. I knew many brilliant artists who had functioning work lives and happy marriages. I wanted that too.”

After two years of counselling, and trying different ways to reduce anxiety – such as planning her work ahead and using software to schedule work and play – she is happier, although she still has the occasional “tune-up”.

“I am completely transparent about it because people will see the numbers of books I have coming out, and think, ‘She has got this all under control’, but it has been quite difficult. And I am more than happy to share how I have been getting help,” she says.

Her third young adult book, a “fr-omance” called Remind Me How This Ends, will be in stores in March 27.

The novel is more emotional and darker than the The Intern, her Inky-award winning first novel released in 2014, which is a more tracky-dack daggy than Vogue version of The Devil Wears Prada, and the 2015 sequel, Faking it.

“[Remind Me] was tapping into such personal topics, such as grief and loss and that kind of blurry line between friendship and romance, and not really knowing where you stand.”

It was hard for her to shake the voices of her two characters, Milo and Layla, the two don’t-know-what-to-do-next teens who are stuck in a small country town.

“I was really feeling everything they were feeling,” says Tozer. “I am an emotional person. And I could feel it was getting harder and harder to leave them at the door at the end of a work day. I was finding they were lingering in my mind, one of those weird author things, they were having conversations in my brain and I would have to transcribe into my phone as I was walking to the gym, or at work.”

When we meet for lunch at Muum Maam at Barangaroo, she arrives looking as glamorous as Anne Hathaway’s character Andrea in the film adaption of The Devil Wears Prada, after her transformation from gawky to chic. Wearing a black midriff top and floating skirt (from a highly affordable chain store) with ankle-length books, she looks more glamorous than other office workers out to lunch.

We order crispy pork belly and fried noodles with little regard for the potential for embarrassing spills.

Like her characters, Tozer says she is always “spiling stuff down my front, I can’t make it out of the cinema without choc-top [on my clothes]”.

Tozer doesn’t see herself as a young adult author, but as a storyteller.

She is currently working on a children’s picture book, Peas and Quiet (one of many she has pitched) to be released in June, and a book for children in primary school.

Like many fiction writers, Tozer’s books make up an incomplete jigsaw puzzle of her life. Her protagonists come from rural . Tozer grew up in Wagga, and “loved the regional childhood” . She was a nerd with more enthusiasm than skill for dancing and drama.

Her first job was working in a video store. (She says she has a thing for industries including journalism, videos and books that have been forced by change to reinvent themselves.) Her sister worked in a chicken shop and came home reeking, like Layla in her latest book.

Her parents were “huge readers”, who were tucked up on the couch every night with a book. Like them, she was a voracious reader of anything she could get her hands on, from Roald Dahl, Morris Gleitzman and Margaret Clark.

“I loved the books with kissing,” she says.

The kissing – good, bad and its absence – is a theme in all three books: “Looks like my pash drought would probably continue forever,” says Josie, the intern in her first novel.

So is fashion. ???Tozer has spent most of her adult life working in lifestyle and fashion magazines, yet she claims to have missed the memo when it comes to fashion. Her younger sister was the fashionista. Her addiction was pop culture, and she spent her money buying books, CDs, DVDs including boxed sets of TV series. “I grew up reading Smash Hits and TV Hits, they were my bibles.”

Like her character Josie Browning, Tozer’s outfit for a Dolly job was styled by her younger sister, Jacqui. While she may look chic on the outside, she says she still feels like Josie on the inside.

While Remind Me How It Ends was hard to write, Peas and Quiet, her new children’s book to be published this year, was the most joyful creative process of her career.

“It came from a magical place. I would pitch it as the odd couple in a pea pod, Pip and Pop. They are struggling to get along, they both have annoying habits,” she says. “On reflection, this is my husband and I negotiating how to live in a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney,” she said, adding that the NSW housing crisis made an accidental appearance in the book.

“[The book] is funny and quite outrageous and warm, they drive each other mad. It is a story about friendship and accepting flaws and getting along.”

Remind Me How It Ends also started with friendship. “It started with Milo and Layla’s connection, mainly because it has always been my MO – I have always fallen in love with the boy who was a friend [including my husband],” says Tozer.

For Layla and Milo, the book ends with uncertainty. “It is not always the Disney ending, and that’s okay, because you are 17,” she says.

“I like exploring the idea that people can be perfect for you even if it is for a short period of time. That’s true for people of any age.”

Read more

Bid for Brunswick’s tallest tower with more suburbs building up

Leafy suburbs forced to squeeze in more homesBrunswick: building up and still enjoying 15 minutes of fameBox Hill booms upwards with apartments
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Brunswick will see its tallest apartment complex emerge yet – this time opposite Princes Park – as the hipster postcode joins a string of Melbourne suburbs quickly soaring upwards.

Building could commence this year on a 13-level, 6000-square metre development bound by Park Street, Sydney Road and Brunswick Road (now the site of the Best Western Princes Park Motor Inn) if the proposal is approved on schedule.

It comes as Melbourne’s suburbs continue to grow taller and denser, with apartment towers approved at increasing heights and suburban developers allowed to squeeze more townhouses on a block.

Comprising three buildings with 333 apartments, 699 Park Street is expected to be Brunswick’s tallest apartment tower, at an estimated 42 metres high. The tallest tower under construction is a 14-level, 40.8-metre tower on the corner of Sydney Road and Albert Street.

But developer JWLand says the Princes Park project will be the “polar opposite” of the Albert Street development, and the other investor-focused towers springing up in the suburb, given it will almost exclusively target Brunswick’s hip and cashed up young professionals and families with larger-sized apartments.

“We’re targeting those that are currently living in the area ??? they might be renters but want to buy their first home,” head of development Nick Weeks said. The project will also include a large childcare centre, dining and retail.

Mr Weeks, also behind the once-controversial Tip Top development in Brunswick East, said JWLand was working closely with Moreland Council, which had embraced taller buildings on the site.

“The planning scheme is actually specifically designed to encourage higher density and higher buildings,” he said, adding the design would set the tallest part of the building back from the street.

Last year, the state government knocked back the council’s push for mandatory height controls. Brunswick Residents Network’s Joanna Stanley said the community wanted mandatory limits that did not exceed 10 levels. “Brunswick residents don’t support the 13 and the 14 level heights,” she said.

Ms Stanley said some residents were already concerned about the Park Street project. “We have the Prini Park running track, which is our version of the Tan, and we want to share that amenity without losing it,” she said, adding that she was most concerned about overshadowing and more congestion due to traffic entering and exiting the buildings at peak times.

But it is not just the inner suburbs dealing with height concerns. Apartment towers have spread to outer suburbs such as Ringwood, Bundoora and Bentleigh.

Vanguard is the tallest apartment tower in Malvern, at 17 levels, while Doncaster’s tallest building, Magnolia, is 14 levels.

Towers up to 15 levels have been proposed for Carnegie, while the application of a controversial nine-level Bentleigh project at 277-279 Centre Road will be decided at an upcoming council meeting.

Glen Eira mayor Mary Delahunty said the council had asked the minister for interim height protection in Bentleigh and Carnegie while the council completed structure planning work.

Proposed interim controls varied across the suburbs, up to a discretionary seven-storey height limit in the Carnegie activity centre.

“Overwhelmingly the majority of permits for very tall builds in these centres were granted by VCAT on appeal,” she said. “We remain vigilant in our efforts to have VCAT actually apply our policies and not just take them into consideration.”

Developer Future Estate’s managing director Ben Anderson said the amount of land suitable for high-density development was limited – such as in activity centres, near transport nodes or along main roads.

There would have to be pockets of greater density within existing suburbs – and not just the inner city suburbs – to accommodate huge population growth, he said

Read more

The cycle ride that is ‘The Hunger Games on wheels’

It’s a cycle race across that makes the Tour de France seem like a luxurious romp.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

On Saturday at 6am, 70 riders will set out from Fremantle on the first Indian Pacific Wheel Race, a gruelling solo ride that will take them almost 5500 kilometres across the Nullarbor then through the Adelaide Hills and Snowy Mountains to the Sydney Opera House.

And because it’s what’s called an unsupported race, they will be either carrying all the food, water and repair supplies they need or buying them at service stations, supermarkets and bike shops along the way.

The leaders are expected to ride for more than 20 hours a day, throwing a swag beside the road for a few hours’ sleep before setting off again.

“It’s almost like The Hunger Games on wheels,” organiser Jesse Carlsson says. “Riding is only one part of the puzzle.

“The logistics of it – staying safe and making sure you’re well fed and well watered – are critical. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, if you run out of food, you’re not going anywhere.”

Carlsson, who is also riding in the race, was inspired by the feats of pioneer outback cyclists as The Overlanders.

“There’s this rich history of ultra endurance cycling in that’s largely been forgotten,” he says. “Even back in the 1890s, when the bike became more widely available, these adventurous young blokes headed across the desert with no known water sources, no GPS or anything like that, just to see if they could make it to the other side.”

Carlsson has ridden similar unsupported solo races overseas, coming second in the Tour Divide, which is 4500 kilometres off-road from Canada to the US-Mexican border, and winning the Trans Am Bike Race, which is 6800 kilometres from the US west coast to the east coast.

“A lot of riders here who have talent lament the fact they can’t find the time or money to head over so I thought let’s put something on and have a big showdown.”

While professional cyclists have support crews that include managers, mechanics and masseurs and watch their diet closely, the modern Overlanders won’t have any of those luxuries.

“They’ll be getting familiar with pies, sausage rolls, potato cakes and all that greasy service station food,” Carlsson says. “It’s not a gourmet tour across by any means.”

One of nine women racing, Sarah Hammond, expects the constant pain to be “horrific” as she rides hard.

“It could be your knees hurting or your back hurting,” she says. “I’ve strained my neck in the past, I’ve had altitude sickness, I’ve had sleep deprivation where you’re falling asleep at the bike and everyone suffers saddle burn and cysts and blisters.

Taking on the race, she believes, involves “a special kind of crazy.”

To buy supplies along the way, Hammond will carry a credit card, cash in case it’s not accepted and coins for any vending machines she needs to use for a snack or drink overnight.

Journalist and author Rupert Guinness, who is also racing, thinks it could be one of the toughest unsupported, solo races in the world given the likely extremes of weather.

“The hardest thing will be the inevitable moment – not just once but a number of times – when the rationale will be to stop and say ‘this is ridiculous’ and have to push through that,” he says. “Those moments will come.” Three of the racers

Paul Ardill, 74

A veteran cyclist who has previously ridden from Perth to Sydney, he is aiming to finish in 24 days. One of his reasons for racing is to get his mind off his triathlete daughter Cheri Lutz’s sudden death last year.

Attitude: “My wife has express posted me to Perth and said I’ve got to find my own way back.”

Sarah Hammond, 36

The Melbourne cyclist started riding “the crazy stuff” with the Trans Am Bike Race across America last June, losing the lead when she accidentally rode 100 kilometres off course. She thinks this race will be harder because it’s more remote.

Attitude: “You see some pretty amazing stuff while you’re suffering.”

Rupert Guinness, 55

Inspired by the pioneer outback cyclists, the longtime cycling journalist hopes to finish in three weeks. Professional riders Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis think he is “mad”, which he finds difficult to argue against.

Attitude: “Part of my interest is seeing, when I do bottom out emotionally and physically, how I handle those moments.”

Read more

The architects who shaped Canberra

Over the past century many architects have added their “language” to the Canberra landscape; like our first private practitioner, Kenneth Oliphant, through to 1960s entrepreneurs Pettit & Sevitt who brought architect-designed homes to a broader market.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Contemporary architects carry on that responsibility and their creations and opinions are not only their legacy, but an important contribution to Canberra’s heritage. THENKenneth Oliphant

“Oliphant came to Canberra after his Melbourne firm won a competition to design houses here,” says David Hobbes, an associate at Philip Leeson Architects, who is a joint heritage adviser to the ACT government.

“At that time, most of the homes and buildings in Canberra were designed by the government and he was sent to supervise the construction of the winning designs.”

Hobbes says it wasn’t long before Oliphant was approached to design homes for Canberra’s middle class and his early work began to populate parts of the inner south and north.

Two of Oliphant’s more well-known achievements include historic Calthorpe’s House and the Barton Court apartments.

“Part of his appeal was that he wasn’t government and that his designs were individual, detailed, elegant, sit well on their sites and are enhanced by their gardens,” Hobbes says.

“His buildings definitely have contemporary cache.” Pettit & Sevitt

These Sydney builders were creatures of the swinging sixties who introduced mass market architecture into project building.

Pettit & Sevitt made their name in Sydney where their split level and pavilion-style homes created a big impact, particularly on Sydney’s North Shore with its steeply sloping bush blocks.

“Their style was particularly suited to our sloping blocks in suburbs like Aranda, Pearce and Torrens and they worked well with native gardens,” Hobbes says.

“When you walk around their designs, you get a real sense of how they created the illusion of space. The actual floor space might be quite modest, but the split-level and positioning of windows create a feeling of spaciousness.” NOWTerry Ring

Terry Ring is the principal of Kingston-based Architects Ring & Associates. He believes the holy grail for architects is to create a sense of place in every home they design.

“In Latin, that’s known as ‘Genius Loci’ and it really distils into that feeling you get in a home when it feels just right,” he says.

Many of his designs are in Forrest, Deakin and Red Hill.

Rings says his designs are guided by three principles: scale, proportion and balance.

“You have to get those right or a home is just not going to work,” he says.

“And it’s got to work in its street setting – you have a responsibility to the other homeowners that your design is going to improve their amenity, not detract from it.” Tony Trobe

Tony Trobe is a well-known architectural commentator on ABC Radio and principal of TT Architecture, also based in Kingston.

The multiple award-winner is concerned about the approach to home design in new suburbs.

“Their homes seem to be conceived with either of two approaches; uniformity or the personal whim model,” he says.

Trobe advocates a design focus at the street level rather than the house or the whole suburb.

“The identity of the street should be king,” he says.

“One might opt to live in a street with a cluster of simple modernist boxes, traditional Manuka cottages, Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie houses or Aussie shed-styles.

“Each street needs to have a coherent theme. Our new suburbs should not, in Menzies words, ‘ruin a good sheep paddock’.”

Old meets new

The meticulous attention to detail, excellent proportions and solid construction have allowed Canberra’s Oliphant homes to stand the test of time.

For architect Rodney Moss and his wife Christina, pictured, it was one of Oliphant’s early designs – a 1930s heritage-listed property in Barton – that offered an ideal starting point for their family home.

Designed in 1988, Rodney’s award-winning contemporary extension is concealed behind the original cottage facade. While the front rooms remain in their original condition, light-filled open-plan living extends out the back and onto the alfresco deck and swimming pool.

The home’s high-pitched roof – another hallmark of Oliphant’s work – gives Rodney his studio space.

They are the home’s third owners. Its first owner was Alf Stafford, the personal driver for a long line of prime ministers from Menzies through to Whitlam.

Alongside the beautiful design, the Mosses love the history of Canberra’s early homes and their links to the city’s foundation.

“We hanker for something that’s rooted in the past,” Rodney says. Cover property

42 National Circuit, Forrest

Designed in 1927, Alcorn House is a classic example of Kenneth Oliphant’s early Canberra work.

The heritage-listed house boasts period details throughout and a mix of formal and informal living areas.

Positioned on a 1202-square-metre block, the residence is set among established gardens, providing a peaceful, private setting for entertaining.

The open-plan family and meals area opens onto a sunny terrace, overlooking the heated swimming pool.

Modern inclusions in the kitchen and bathrooms are sympathetic to the home’s original design.

The gourmet kitchen is equipped with stone benchtops, gas cooking and high-quality appliances.

All bedrooms are generously proportioned and two feature en suites and walk-in wardrobes. Two secondary bedrooms include built-in wardrobes and a fifth room could be used as a home office or study.

It is conveniently within walking distance to both grammar schools, the Parliamentary Triangle and Manuka’s boutiques and restaurants.

Read more

Northbourne Avenue renewal draws strong residential interest

Geocon’s mega Northbourne Avenue project to shape light rail corridorLight rail already a major influence for Canberra property developersNorthbourne Avenue transformation continues with new land for sale at Lyneham
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Future Northbourne Avenue residents are looking past the current construction site and towards the thoroughfare’s future.

The first major development at the city end of the light rail corridor, Geocon’s 250-unit complex Midnight, is officially released on Saturday with the opening of the display suite. However, 150 units have already sold.

Managing director Nick Georgalis said the company had sold about 10 apartments a day over the past two weeks.

“Inquiries and interest on this particular project have been through the roof,” Mr Georgalis said.

Mr Georgalis said all unit types from one-bedroom apartments to penthouses have received strong interest and three penthouses averaging $1.4 million were among the apartments that have sold.

The nine-storey building will be built on the existing NRMA House site at 92 Northbourne Avenue, opposite the future Elouera Street tram stop.

In addition to residential apartments, the $185 million project will include a 183-room Abode Hotel, 2500 square metres of commercial space and 200 public care spaces.

Mr Georgalis said Midnight would act as “a precinct within a precinct” and connect Northbourne Avenue to Braddon’s shops and restaurants.

“The location is by far the most prominent in Canberra, but it offers value for money,” Mr Georgalis said.

Trees along Northbourne Avenue’s median strip will be felled by the end of March to make way for the light rail.

Overnight construction work on the tram line has been criticised by current residents.

“[Northbourne Avenue] looks like a war zone at the moment but in 2019, 2020 it’s going to be an avenue that represents what Canberra is,” Mr Georgalis said.

“It’s not the bush capital, it’s an emerging city.”

Mr Georgalis said strong interest in the Midnight project bodes well for other developments slated for the corridor.

A 30,000-square-metre site in Dickson sold for $40 million to the Art Group in August and will include a 697-unit development.

The Art Group will also build a nine-storey, 209-unit complex at 217 Northbourne Avenue in Turner.

Tenders for a 25,000-square-metre site former public housing site in Lyneham closed on Wednesday. It will accommodate up to 500 apartments.

“For the first cab off the rank I think it’s an awesome result,” Mr Georgalis said.

“I think everyone is going to be selling quite quickly when they do release their projects.”

While there has been debate around the supply of apartments in Canberra, Nick Georgalis said the rate of sales indicated an undersupply.

He said the ACT’s growing population, which is expected to surge by 25,000 people over the next four years, would add to the demand.

Read more

Journey of transformation

4 Davenport Street, Ainslie$1.1-$1.2 million 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 5 car spaces
SuZhou Night Recruitment

The “worst house in the best street” has had an amazing transformation in this Ainslie home that now offers stylish contemporary living.

Jane Goodall and Chris Parkinson bought the 1959, three-bedroom, one-bathroom, old “govie” around 2015.

“We needed somewhere to live while our new home was being built in Downer. After we’d moved in, we started to wonder what we could with it,” Jane says.

“It was on a good-sized block and in a great location close to schools and both the Ainslie and Dickson shops.”

Jane’s love of home renovation and design led the couple on a journey of transformation for a tired, old building.

“We researched what people were looking for in a home and looked at how we might be able to incorporate those features,” Jane says.

Close liaison with the selected builders determined a previous extension at the back of the home could be repurposed along with the creation of a smaller extension at the front.

The house now presents with two zones: the front contains the entry, a study nook, four bedrooms, the master with en suite, a main bathroom and a living room.

This flows into the garden wing that features the kitchen, dining and family room.

“We put a lot of emphasis in the creation of a chef’s kitchen – it has three ovens,” Jane says.

“That’s probably an indicator of our approach to the innovation. We didn’t want it to simply present as a renovation ‘flip’, but as the outcome of a thoughtful redesign where no expense was spared.”

She believes the home would suit a young family, a professional couple or downsizers with its manageable and low maintenance 777-square-metre block.

Auction: Saturday, March 25, 10.30am, onsite. Inspect: Saturday, March 18, 9.30am-10.15am; Wednesday, March 22, 5pm-5.30pm; Saturday, March 25, 10am-10.30am. Agent: Holly Komorowski, home.byholly, 0434 973 987.

4 Harpur Street, Garran $860,000-plus 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 3 car spaces

Garran was considered one of Canberra’s outer suburbs when this home was built on Harpur Street in 1967.

Fifty years later, this solidly built, three-bedroom, family residence has now come onto the market for the first time.

The homeowner’s daughter, Jenny Waldie, remembers the fun she and her brother had playing on the building site as the home, designed by her parents, was gradually realised.

“They really liked the size of the block and its views,” she says.

“Mum and dad were also keen to create a house with maximum ‘useability’ that also took advantage of its north-facing aspect.”

Two large living areas capture the sun and Jenny recalls many casual meals in the “sunroom” that opens onto an outdoor entertaining area.

At the front of the home is a large kitchen that flows into the formal dining room. There are three generous bedrooms all with built-in robes. The main bathroom has a bath and shower and a separate toilet has a second shower.

Beneath the home is a triple garage, a workshop, cellar and plenty of storage.

Auction: Saturday, March 25, 1pm, on site. Inspect: Saturday, March 18, 1pm-1.30pm; Saturday, March 25, 12.30pm-1pm. Agents: Jane Kusetic, Chris Wilson, Cream Residential0408 662 119, 0418 620 686.

Read more

Canberra tenants wait weeks for bond refunds over peak period

Canberra tenants reportedly waited up to nine weeks to get their rental bonds back over the Christmas and New Year period due to processing delays.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Access Canberra has attributed “minor delays” to “increased transactions” at the time but property managers have expressed frustration with the agency’s lack of resources during the industry’s busiest period.

Former tenant Joel Steenbergen??? waited six weeks for his bond money to be deposited after applying for a refund via his property manager in December.

After returning from an overseas trip in January he began making enquiries with his property manager and then Access Canberra, which oversees bond lodgements and refunds in the ACT.

When an amount was finally transferred in February, half the refund was missing.

“The reason [for half the bond being refunded] was they didn’t have my wife’s details, so they had to split it into two payments. They sent the rest as a cheque about a week later,” Mr Steenbergen said.

“It put us out a little bit. I imagine other people buying another house or moving house, with all the costs, not getting the bond back for a month or two months is a bit of a joke, really.”

Landlords lodging new bonds were also affected by delays of up to several weeks over the summer months.

A Canberra agency that wished to remain anonymous said the delays, which have since been resolved, meant some outgoing tenants had to fork out large sums of money at the beginning of a new lease before their previous bond had been refunded.

The agency’s spokeswoman said delayed bond lodgements at the beginning of new leases had also sparked issues.

In one instance, a five-week processing delay resulted in one tenant breaking their lease early and vacating a rental property before the bond money had been charged to their credit card.

“The peak real estate rental period is November to the end of January and mid-February,” the spokeswoman said.

“We have lots of tenants moving in and out of rental bonds at that time and they [Access Canberra] haven’t accommodated that peak.”

The spokeswoman said she had heard similar complaints about delays from other businesses and property managers in the ACT.

Stricter administrative guidelines had also caused delays, including discrepancies between first names such as Chris or Christopher.

“We understand a process needs to be followed but it’s not helping move things along,” she said.

Tenants’ Union ACT executive officer Deb Pippen said tenants had reported delays of as long as nine weeks earlier this year.

An Access Canberra spokeswoman said the agency worked as quickly as possible to “process payments across a range of services, including rental bonds”.

“Minor delays in the processing of rental bond refunds occurred as a result of increased transactions over the Christmas/New Year period,” she said.

“Access Canberra worked to progress refunds as quickly as possible and normal processing timeframes of 10 days resumed within two weeks.”

The spokeswoman said a number of factors could affect processing timeframes, such as disputes made by tenants, landlords or managing agents, or the provision of insufficient information.

Ms Pippen said long processing delays were unusual and advised tenants to put in bond applications themselves, as soon as they moved out of a rental property.

“A lot of tenants don’t know that they can put in an application themselves and they rely on the agents,” she said.

Read more