Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs are home to a significant number of rich and famous, both Australians and internationals, who inhabit some equally famous properties. The title of ‘most expensive Sydney home’ changes from year to year and sale to sale. However there are a number of prominent properties which stand out as instantly recognised trophy homes, with histories as rich as those who are fortunate enough to be able to afford them.
Perhaps the jewel of Australian real estate is Boomerang on Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay. This rambling 1928 Spanish Art Deco residence sits on a prime 4111sqm north-facing waterfront block in a diminutive suburb that’s home to just a handful of freestanding houses. In addition to the six bedroom main residence, the property encompasses a two-bedroom guest cottage which is a mini replica of the main house, a rare deepwater jetty and four-car garaging.
Along with the lavish parties which have been thrown in its grounds, Boomerang’s major claim to fame is its appearance alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible II. The house provided a dramatic backdrop to several of the movie’s earlier scenes, which showed off the property to perfection. It set the then record for Australia’s most expensive home when trucking magnate Lindsay Fox bought it in 2005 for $21 million.
Perhaps the closest property we have to a castle in the East is Swifts at Darling Point on Darling Point Road. The 56 room 1880s gothic revival sandstone mansion overlooking Sydney Harbour sits on 1.5 hectares, an almost inconceivably large parcel of land for a property barely 4km from the heart of the CBD.
It was originally built by the Tooths brewing family, who famously stated that they wanted “a bigger ballroom than the governor”. It ended up in the hands of another brewing family, the Reschs, as well as the Catholic Church, a developer and several mortgagees before its 1997 sale for $12 million to the Moran family of Moran Healthcare. A decade and $12 million worth of restoration later and Swifts had been returned to its former glory. In its lifetime two popes have stayed there, countless celebrities have been guests and a number of scandals have gone down within its walls. Given its scale it’s a miracle that it has managed to survive redevelopment to remain as a single private family home and truly one of the great landmarks in Sydney’s residential real estate. It’s impossible to say what the property would fetch on the market today, but its owners are very clear that it’s not for sale anyway!
Further up Darling Point Road, Craigend, located by McKell Park on the tip of the Darling Point peninsula, is a distinctive waterfront mansion constructed in 1935 in the Moorish and Art Deco styles. The property has a diverse history. In 1948 it was acquired by the US Government as the official residence of the Consul General before being returned to the private sector. In 1975 it served as the villain’s lair in the Hong Kong/Australian co-produced movie The Man from Hong Kong. Its unusual features include a pair of doors from an ancient mosque in Zanzibar and a traditional Japanese garden.
The exclusive peninsula of Point Piper is often regarded as the home of Australia’s priciest real estate and most elite residents. The waterfront estate Altona on Wunulla Road set the record for Australia’s most expensive house when it was sold in 2002 for $28.5 million, which included the neighbouring block (the two blocks were consolidated in 1996). Over the years its owners have allowed it to be used for up-scale parties and launches, but only those who can afford the hefty price tag required for its hire have the pleasure of getting behind the doors of this notoriously private home.
Listed on the Register of the National Estate, the historic mansion Rona on Ginahgulla Road, Bellevue Hill, was built by G.A. Morell for Edward Knox, founder of CSR, in 1883. Named after an island between Skye and the mainland of Scotland, the two-storey sandstone gothic revival residence was based on Greycliffe House at Nielsen Park, Vaucluse. Rona was sold by Knox’s descendants, the Rutledge family, in 1989 to businessman John Schaeffer for $9.6 million. He then sold the property in 2004 for about $20 million, along with most of his prized art collection. A tennis court and magnificent views of the harbour are just two of the drawcards of this landmark property.