ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas
With its stunning location overlooking the Indian Ocean, excellent infrastructure and amenities, and close proximity to Perth, it’s no wonder the City of Rockingham is becoming an increasingly popular place to live. Add to the mix the range of affordable property and it’s easy to see why Rockingham was one of the best Growth Suburbs under $550,000 in 2015, according to Realestate’s website.
The Nyungar Aboriginal people originally inhabited the area now known as Rockingham. However, the earliest origins of the City as we know it can be traced back almost 200 years to 1830, the year Thomas Peel bought the Rockingham to ship British settlers to Western Australia. Unfortunately, the ship was blown ashore and was abandoned after attempts to re-float her failed. The settlers who survived the shipwreck are reputed to have camped nearby and regarded ‘Rockingham Town’ as their address, although it was another 25 years before the area was officially declared a town site.
These days Rockingham is one of Australia’s fastest growing cities and is home to a diverse community, including navy personnel (the HMAS Stirling naval base on Garden Island is accessed via a causeway from Rockingham), shipbuilders (employed at nearby Henderson), and FIFO (fly in, fly out) workers from the resources sector, as well as European migrants and locals.
Rockingham has much to recommend it. The City’s website (http://www.rockingham.wa.gov.au) (NEW WINDOW, SAME FOR THE NEXT ONES) describes it, somewhat quaintly, as a place that ‘attracts residents who want to enjoy an excellent quality of life by the seaside.’ It may sound a little old fashioned, but if the idea of swimming with wild dolphins, visiting the local fairy penguins or spotting 50 varieties of seabirds, plus the occasional sea lion appeals, Rockingham could be just the spot you’re looking for.
Rockingham real estate
Rockingham’s population currently sits at around 100,000 and is growing. The suburb is popular with retirees, according to realestate.com.au, but there are plenty of families here too, enticed by the great outdoor lifestyle, affordable property and wealth of good schools. Murdoch University’s Rockingham Campus is here too.
Beachside properties are popular and include new townhouses and apartments. There’s also a good supply of brick homes from the 1980s, which can be great buys for renovators, particularly those on generous blocks. Older heritage homes, such as the old weatherboard worker’s cottages traditionally found near the water, are not so plentiful these days and, as you’d expect, there are more restrictions on their renovation.
Expect to pay around $350,000-400,000 for a family home here (the median price for a three-bedroom house was $369,000 and $475,000 for a four-bedroom in May 2016, according to realestate.com.au, less if you’re looking for a place requiring major renovation.
Real estate agent Roger Moorhouse of Acton Rockingham says the City offers plenty of opportunity for renovators. He says the area close to the Rockingham City Shopping Centre is especially worth looking at.
“There are houses here that were built in the 1960s and 70s that are smallish homes on generous sized blocks of 600 to 700 square metres. Many are still in their original condition and are a very appealing four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.”
He says those wanting to renovate to resell should prioritise upgrading kitchens and bathrooms, which are always important to potential buyers. He says renovating outdoor areas is important too.
“The Rockingham climate is perfect for outdoor entertaining. A good alfresco area with an outdoor kitchen and a big Colorbond-style covered area overlooking a pool can be a massive drawcard for a property.”
Moorhouse says that Rockingham property is good value, particularly if you look beyond absolute beachfront homes, which are the only ones with water views. “Property is very, very affordable here, even within a kilometre of beach. It’s very flat here, not hilly, so property prices dissipate very quickly once you move away from the beach.”
Rockingham has a Mediterranean-type climate with hot summers, often with an afternoon sea breeze, and cool, wetter winters. Considering the climate from the outset of your renovation project will help you make the most of opportunities for passive solar heating and cooling. Smart strategies typically include avoiding overuse of glazing, sealing roof spaces in winter and ventilating them in summer, using passive solar shading on northerly windows and installing ceiling fans in living and sleeping spaces.
A rainwater tank is a must of course, but you may also need to consider installing a soakwell to dispose of stormwater runoff (from the roof and/or other surfaces). The Rockingham City website outlines soakwell requirements in the area.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.