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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dream homes banish the Tassie shack

Dream homes banish the Tassie shack

HE traditional Tasmanian summer shack holiday is becoming a thing of the past as prime beachfront land is reclaimed for permanent residences.

Real estate agents and residents say the old shack communities around the state are being transformed into satellite suburbs with grandiose houses replacing ramshackle holiday homes.

In a chicken-and-egg situation, the trend towards permanent residence is forcing local councils to provide better infrastructure and the improved services are, in turn, leading to greater development of the areas.

Waratah-Wynyard Council general manager Paul West said there were 420 property titles for the traditional shack settlement at Sisters Beach in the state's North-West and most of the properties were now permanently occupied.

"At Sisters Beach, and nearby Boat Harbour, we have a situation where two- or three-storey modern houses are being built next door to small shacks," he said.

"We are definitely seeing more and more permanent residents moving into those areas.

"With better roads and better cars people can live somewhere like Sisters Beach and commute to work, and they don't seem to mind doing that."

Mr West said the changing pattern of residence had led the council to install a sewerage scheme at Sisters Beach.

"We've also had to improve road infrastructure. Ten or 15 years ago, all the streets at Sisters Beach were gravel, but now they are all sealed.

"I think that in the not-too-distant future we'll be seeing more significant developments at Sisters Beach."

Residents at other North-West shack sites like Boat Harbour Beach and Hawley Beach report the same development trends.

In the state's south, at Bruny Island, the property boom has changed the island's demographics.

Court Hobday, who runs the Wainui B & B at Dennes Point, said that while some traditional shacks remained, North Bruny, in particular, had changed in the three years since he had moved to Bruny.

"There are a lot more permanent residents, some of whom commute to work in Hobart, and a lot of 'swallows' -- people who just fly in for the summer."

Mr Hobday said he had been told by long-time residents that the population make-up of Bruny started to change about four years ago when property prices boomed.

"Before that you couldn't sell land on Bruny Island, people thought it was just for shackies.

"But when property prices skyrocketed and people started advertising houses and land on the internet, mainland buyers thought they were bagging a bargain and snapped them up.

"That encouraged many shack owners to jump on the bandwagon and also sell. Many of the people who bought were not the traditional Tasmanian shack owners and Bruny started to change.

"Now it is becoming a desirable place to live as well as a desirable place to visit," Mr Hobday said.

While the trend towards permanent residence is also affecting popular East Coast locations, St Helens real estate agent Aaron Bonner said there were still holiday rentals available.

He said his agency handled holiday lets for about 36 properties.

"The demand is still very high and we have very few vacancies at the moment," he added.

Mr Bonner said peak holiday season rental prices ranged from $170 to $190 a week.

For those seeking absolute luxury, Tasmania's famous "glass house", Avalon near Swansea, is available to rent for a mere $660 a night.

Limited numbers of the traditional ramshackle shack can still be found at much cheaper rates. But they are hard to find because they are not handled by real estate agents. You need to be a member of the secret shack society to rent one.

Mostly the rental transactions happen on the "black" market for cash in hand and involve friends and family of the owners.


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