Celebs flock to new hideaway to rival Byron
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, many of Australia's most famous faces are fleeing to a secret hideaway just 100km southwest of Sydney.
With its fresh air, expansive properties and relaxed lifestyle, the Southern Highlands is giving Byron Bay a run for its money in the celebrity property stakes.
While Byron Bay has claimed the Hemsworth clan and American actor Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Samantha Armytage, Larry Emdur, Sam Burgess, Michelle Bridges and Kyle Sandilands are among those that call the Southern Highlands home.
With views of rolling green hills instead of crashing waves, the Southern Highlands is increasingly offering more bang for buck than Byron Bay. Realestate.com.au reports the major town centre of Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale all have median house prices significantly less than Byron Bay's $1.87m, which was up 36.3 per cent in the past 12 months.
Moss Vale was cheapest at $740,000, followed by Mittagong ($797,500) and Bowral at $1.125m.
Australian actor Nicole Kidman and country music star Keith Urban own one of the region's finest Georgian homes. Named Bunya Hill, the Sutton Forest property sits on 45ha and was purchased for $6.5m in 2008.
The mansion has wide sandstone verandas, pressed-metal ceilings, a carved cedar staircase and 10 marble fireplaces. Such is the grandeur of the home, it was leased as a vice-regal rural retreat for Lord Augustus Loftus, a governor of NSW in the 1880s.
A black angus cattle stud, the property also has lush manicured gardens, a detached cottage, dam, paddocks and a tennis court surrounded by a hedge. It has become their global base since the pandemic started last year.
Radio personality Kyle Sandilands is another celebrity to escape to the Southern Highlands with records showing he owns a 61ha farm known as Twin Creeks. The 1890s Federation farm house was purchased for $2.982m, and ownership is shared between the KIIS FM star and his ex-girlfriend Imogen Anthony.
The listing ad at the time described the home as a perfect spot for a "farmstay", a wedding venue and/or a Bed and Breakfast.
Former 2GB Breakfast presenter and Sky News host Alan Jones also lives in the Southern Highlands, with property records showing he owns a 27ha property he purchased in 2003 for $2.6m.
On the television front, Sunrise co-host Sam Armytage made a permanent shift from North Bondi to a 40ha Bowral property owned by her fiance Richard Lavender.
The move follows Armytage selling her own 2.02ha Burrawang property last year for $3.1m after paying $2.2m three years ago.
The off-market deal for the cottage with wraparound verandas and high ceilings saw her sell the last remaining property she owned.
Her Channel 7 colleague Larry Emdur also made a play in the Southern Highlands last year with the purchase of an epic Kangaroo Valley dwelling made from shipping containers. Designed by the former owner and architect Alexander Michael in 2018, the couple paid $2.15m.
The off-the-grid property features solar power with battery banks, rainwater harvesting and two floor-to-ceiling fireplaces. There is also four bedrooms with their own ensuites.
The Emdurs have recently launched the weekender as a eco rental property for the holiday crowds.
After selling her Potts Point penthouse last year, fitness guru Michelle Bridges has made the permanent move to the Southern Highlands. She purchased a stunning country retreat in January 2018 for $2.7m.
At the time of the sale, media reported that she outbid chef Luke Mangan for the property. The home has five bedrooms, a guest barn, studio, tennis court and a swimming pool on the secluded 3.7ha block.
Former Rabbitohs player Sam Burgess is another high profile name splitting their time between Sydney and the Southern Highlands. The Daily Telegraph reported in December he is spending three nights a week at a Bowral home where his ex Phoebe Burgess and their children are living.
Originally published as Celebs flock to new hideaway to rival Byron