By Kirra Grimes

NEW housing developments in Wonthaggi’s north east are filling up fast, as developers take advantage of a population boom.
Bass Coast Shire’s population is forecast to double within the next 20 years, with developments like the hospital upgrade and new secondary college campus putting Wonthaggi right at the centre of that growth, and Council working on a plan to create 5000 new dwellings and 67 hectares of employment land (equating to 400 to 500 new jobs) in the town’s north east precinct.
With a planning scheme amendment and detailed drainage and transport projects still pending, the Wonthaggi North East Precinct Plan is expected to be finalised in mid to late 2020, but signs of growth can already be seen in the precinct, with over 1500 lots granted planning permits, and finished houses springing up in stage one of the Parklands estate off McGibbonys Road and the Summerfields estate off Fuller Road.
Those who’ve already moved in to these brand-new estates include retirees, young families, and commuter couples, attracted by the area’s mix of accessible services and country charms.
In the Parklands estate, the Barber family – retired mum and dad and their adult son and rescue dog – saw a good investment opportunity.
Originally from Rowville, the Barbers moved to Wonthaggi three years ago because they had friends in the area.
They had lived on Cambridge Way, just across the road from Parklands, but sold up for a decent price, and built a similar sized house on “the best block in the estate”.
They’re settling in well, enjoying being close to shops and services but away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne.
“We lived in Rowville for 26 years and we’d been coming down to this area for years to visit friends in Waratah North,” Mrs Barber explained.
“We like the country because everything’s a bit slower and more relaxed – people smile a lot more here than in the city – but Waratah North was a bit too out of the way for us,” she said.
“Our son has special needs, so having the hospital and disability services like Connecting2Australia nearby in Wonthaggi is a really big thing.
“And you can get to Phillip Island… it’s pretty handy to everything. But it is getting busier. The parking situation in town is getting worse,” she said.
Also finding their “forever home” at Parklands, are the Walker family: dad Troy who works at the desalination plant, mum Sahira who works at Big W, 11-year-old Nathan and 8-year-old Eliza who go to the local primary school, and the family dog ‘Milo’.
Troy grew up in Kongwak, while Sahira emigrated from Los Angeles in the USA in 2014.
The couple first lived together in Leongatha for a year, then moved to South Dudley to be closer to Troy’s work.
Starting a family, they wanted to be close to schools and other amenities, so they after 10 years in South Dudley, they looked at houses in Wonthaggi.
“We looked at the Kingston Rise estate first, but they were all sold out,” Troy said.
“We saw a few houses in Wonthaggi we liked, but everything went off the market pretty quick, so we started looking for land instead.”
There were only three blocks left in the estate, when the Walkers came across it.
“So, we decided to grab one,” Troy said. “We liked the location – because you’re kind of out of town but not. You don’t have people walking past your window, but you’re still only about six seconds drive away from the main street.”
The landscaping of the Parklands estate also appealed to the Walkers, to their surprise.
“I went and had a look at some other estates, in Berwick and Pakenham, that didn’t have the same rules about what to have in your front garden and a lot of them just had dead grass.
“Initially, I thought the requirements to have certain trees and layout and get it approved was a bit overboard, but it really makes a difference; it makes the estate so much nicer.”
The Walkers moved in to Parklands three months ago, and look forward to seeing it finished, with BBQ and sporting facilities to be added to the parklands within the estate.
Over in Summerfields estate, engaged couple Melanie and Brendan McCurdy are settling in to their new home after moving in less than two weeks ago.
The couple both work in Melbourne, Brendan managing a bike shop and Melanie in a café, but “didn’t even consider” buying property there.
“You hear on the radio that blocks out here are $150,000 compared to $350,000 in Melbourne – price was definitely a big factor, but I always knew I’d move back down here anyway,” said Brendan, who grew up in Wonthaggi but spent the past “7 years, three weeks and four days” living in Melbourne.
Proximity to family, and a lower stress lifestyle sealed the deal for the couple, even if it means getting up at 5am to get to work on time.
“It’s about an hour and 30 or 40 minutes to get to work, but it’s not a big deal for us,” Brendan said.
“When we lived in Melbourne, 20ks away from work, it took an hour to get to work because of the traffic.
“The blood pressure’s definitely gone down since coming down here. We won’t move back there,” he said.
Note: A previous version of this story referred to Parklands as Powlett Ridge. This was incorrect. The Sentinel-Times apologises for the error.