THE REAL ESTATE INVASION
By PATRIZIA REIMER
AS FAR as Bernie Caldwell is concerned, all the roadworks between Brisbane and the Far North Coast have been undertaken purely for his benefit.
The 48-year-old ship's master wanted to live near good surf, and keep working on the tugs in the Brisbane River.
Enticed by improving driving conditions and great surf he and his wife moved recently to Skennars Head. And he is still working in Brisbane.
"The Tugun bypass and the stretch from Yelgun to Brunswick Heads is certainly going to shorten the trip. It's going to be under two hours," he said.
The message people like Bernie are sending to Northern Rivers locals looking to buy is 'Get in now before the Queensland hordes invade'.
By the time the roads are finished later this year, real estate prices throughout the region will have risen, driven by demand from Brisbane and other Queensland people looking for easily accessible holiday homes, or homes within commuting distance of the city.
Australian Property Investor magazine in Febru- ary drew everyone's attention to the next big land rush, describing 2007 as 'The Year of the Bypass'.
The magazine quotes population and real estate experts predicting that when the Tugun bypass around Coolangatta and the Pacific highway bypass at Brunswick Heads are completed, waves of people from the north will cascade down south. They also predict that when the Ballina bypass is complet- ed towns further south, such as Yamba, will join the land rush.
Michael Shay, from LJ Hookers at Ballina, has noticed more inquiries from South-East Queensland.
"We're going to get more and more Queenslanders coming south because of the ease of driving," he said.
"And don't be surprised if people travel down to our area permanently."
Principal of the Professionals at Ballina, Peter Carmont, said he has also seen a Queensland interest in the area. "Previously Queenslanders accounted for only 2 per cent of our sales," he said. "I've had two sales to Queenslanders in the last month."
Keith Jones, managing director of PRD Nationwide Lennox Head and Ballina, said the better roads make it easy for Brisbanites to have a weekender down south.