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Century of change cements Yarralumla as one of Canberra’s prestige suburbs

24b Bentham Street, Yarralumla.24b Bentham Street, Yarralumla. Photo: Supplied

In its almost 100 years, Yarralumla’s homes have progressed from workers’ tents and temporary cottages to some of Canberra’s most expensive real estate.

The sale of 12 Hunter Street for $5,475,000 in November cemented Yarralumla’s place as one of the city’s prestige suburbs. The mansion’s luxurious finishes were about as far as you could get from the simple timber cottages Canberra’s early labourers called home.

While the suburb has steadily progressed since the 1920s (the suburb’s first embassy, the Embassy of the United States, was founded in 1942), Yarralumla has experienced a rapid transformation over the past decade, according to Luton Properties Manuka agent and Yarralumla specialist Marc Donohue.

“Over the last 12 years you’ve seen a redevelopment of the suburb, from a worker’s area – not dissimilar to Narrabundah – with a lot of small workers cottages,” Donohue says.

“People are seeing its potential. It’s one of the newest suburbs in the inner south as there are a number of new homes.”

Donohue says Yarralumla’s proximity to the city, Parliamentary Triangle and the Canberra Hospital has made it a popular suburb with various professional groups.

It’s framed by Lake Burley Griffin to the north, the Royal Canberra Golf Club to the west and national landmarks, including Parliament House, to the east.

Location aside, what sets Yarralumla apart from its inner south neighbours is that the value of its original blocks is primarily in the land.

Most of the old cottages haven’t held up as well as the heritage-listed red bricks of the surrounding suburbs and they’re quickly being replaced by modern architecture.

“In Red Hill and Griffith there’s a lot more value in the homes on the block,” Donohue says.

“Yarralumla has smaller old cottages that are in a prime location for knockdown-rebuilds. There’s more value in the land than the house and land package.”

The older cottages may offer a more affordable foothold into the blue-ribbon suburb, but they’re by no means an entry level opportunity into the Canberra property market.

President of the Yarralumla Residents Association David Harvey says the average block is worth about $1 million and a million-dollar house is a typical addition.

Yarralumla’s median house price in 2016 was $1.46 million, more than double Canberra’s $684,395 median.

However, families with the cash to spend are increasingly drawn to the suburb.

“It’s mainly younger families who are moving in because it’s convenient to the Girls Grammar School and Canberra Grammar School,” Harvey says.

The local public school, Yarralumla Primary, is also a major drawcard as it’s one of just two Italian/English bilingual schools in the country.

Yarralumla is set for further changes with the 16-hectare Canberra Brickworks slated for a major redevelopment.

Two Canberra groups have been shortlisted to redevelop the site and the preferred developer should be announced by mid-2017.

A list of objectives will guide the site’s redevelopment and include the restoration and conservation of the brickworks, as well as diverse and sustainable housing options.

Recent sales, such as 12 Hunter Street and 16 Brown Street, which sold for $3.95 million in June, have given residents the confidence to invest in substantial builds and renovations.

“The sales before Christmas and over the last six months have really shown the demand in the area,” Donohue says.

“The money that’s being spent in the area is an underlying indication that they won’t be overcapitalising in the suburb.”

Yarralumla’s top three sales

  • 12 Hunter Street – The record-breaking home, complete with swimming pool and tennis court, sold for $5,475,000 in November 2016, through Peter Blackshaw Manuka agent Mario Sanfrancesco.
  • 16 Brown Street – No expense was spared on this waterfront home. It sold for $3.95 million in June 2016, through Peter Blackshaw Manuka agents Andrew Chamberlain and Alec Brown and LJ Hooker Manuka principal Stephen Thompson.
  • 33 Hampton Circuit – The luxury home sold for $3.2 million in December 2014, through Berkely Residential agent Bill Lyristakis and held the suburb record for 18 months.

Love the suburb

Margaret Pentony, above, has lived in various Canberra suburbs since she moved here in 1951, but her favourite has been Yarralumla.

She moved to the suburb with her family after buying a monocrete cottage in 1990, but they wanted to wait and see if she liked living in the area before rebuilding the home.

Schlich Street’s leafy canopy and proximity to the lake sealed the deal and in 1995 they set about building a beautiful light-filled home with a lovely connection to the outdoors.

Most of the living areas are upstairs, giving the home a treehouse-feel. Timber details add warmth and an indoor swimming pool is perfect for year-round use.

“It’s such a fun family house,” Margaret says.

Her three kids have left home and it’s too big for an empty-nester, but Margaret will be staying in the area. She’s a keen rower and a committee member with the Yarralumla Residents Association.

“It’s a wonderful multi-dimensional community,” Margaret says.

“It’s such a supportive place to live, people look after each other.”

61 Schlich Street is for sale through Peter Blackshaw Manuka agent Mario Sanfrancesco (0412 488 027). Inspect: Saturday, 10.45-11.30am

Feature property

A shining example of one of Yarralumla’s luxurious modern homes, this three-bedroom townhouse combines elements of Japanese and Scandinavian design.

It was designed by Paul Tilse Architects and features internal courtyards and garden spaces, which invite light and life into the home.

Finished in oak and stained cedar timber treatments, stainless steel, glass and marble, the property boasts a sleek, neutral colour palette.

The kitchen overlooks open-plan living and includes a marble island bench and window splashback. A black feature wall conceals the walk-in pantry and integrated fridges.

The master suite is positioned on the lower level and looks onto the central courtyard. It features a walk-in wardrobe and an en suite with a double marble vanity, room-width shower and large skylight.

A European oak staircase with frameless glass balustrade leads the way to two additional bedrooms, the main bathroom and a study nook. Both bedrooms have built-in wardrobes and one has views of Black Mountain.

The home enjoys a central Yarralumla position, just a short stroll to the shops and minutes to the lake, schools, Parliamentary Triangle and the city.