Pioneering Amrstrong Creek

Gus leads parents Serren and Tim into their new frontier at Armstrong Creek.

Young families and investors are helping realise the potential of Armstrong Creek. GILL COOPER speads to the buyers and sellers buidling a community the size of Ballarat on Geelong’s southern doorstep.

Serren Savy and Tim Debenham are typical of the new faces pioneering the growing estates of Armstrong Creek.

Serren and Time lived in Glen Iris before deciding to build in the area’s Warralily estate.

“I loved the spot we were living in but the traffic was really starting to frustrate me,” says Tim, 34.

“My family has had a holiday house in Barwon Heads since 2003, so I’d always been pretty familiar with this area and liked it.

“It was getting far too expensive to buy where we wanted to live in Melbourne, so we checked out the area and ended up buying a block.”

Serren, 30, grew up in in the country before living in Melbourne for almost 10 years.

“I loved the country feel of Armstrong Creek but with the city conveniences of Geelong not far away. At the time affordability was also a factor, as was proximity to the beaches,” she says.

“We moved here when I was three months pregnant, rented, then moved into our place two weeks after Gus was born.”

Minimal stamp duty and the regional First Home Owners Grant of $10,000 helped the couple break into the local property market.

But Tim commuted to Melbourne for two-and-a-half years before landing a job this year with the Geelong Indy, GC’s sister newspaper.

Working locally without hours commuting has helped Tim connect with the community, he says

“I’ve joined Torquay Golf Club and have met people through that while also connecting with people professionally. I expect this to evolve once Gus is getting more into his sports and schooling.

“Warralily’s perfect in terms of how close it is to the coast as well as the conveniences of Geelong, from a dining/bars/retail perspective.

“There are great walking tracks in the area for pushing a pram while walking the dog at the same time with no need to stress about traffic and busy roads.

“We have friendly neighbours who we know we can trust and will look out for our home when we’re away.”

Serren agrees.

“I really like the walking tracks, playgrounds and safe streets,“ she chimes in.

“When Gus was first born I feel like I walked hundreds of kilometres around here because he slept well in a moving car or pram!

“While out walking I liked how people actually looked you in the eye, smiled and said, ’Hello’. It’s such a friendly place. We chat to our neighbours and feel a good sense of community.”

Dianne Dimitrievski and young sons Will and Ed, aged seven and four, are newer-comers to Armstrong Creek.

They’re quickly learning their way around the new community after setting up house at Warralily in July, Di says.

“It’s busy times for us but we do feel very safe and comfortable living here.”

Originally from Melbourne, Di and her former partner bought the home together in 2016 while living at Belmont. The investment proved to be a wise move, Di says now.

Di originally came from the western side of Melbourne, living at Newport. She previously worked in project marketing for off-the-plan apartments and residential development in the CBD, so she’s familiar with the ebbs and flows of real estate.

“I knew right from the beginning this was going to be a great place to raise a family. It has such a strong, friendly, community feel.

“Now I’ve even moved my parents down to Bell Post Hill. They are a part of the Macedonian community there. We’re all happy living in Geelong.

“We bought in Armstrong Creek as an investment because we could see the amazing potential this place would have. Armstrong Creek is very convenient, close to town, amazing parks and facilities and surrounded by some of the best beaches in Australia.

“When I was living in Melbourne we had to plan well ahead to visit the Surf Coast. Now no planning ahead’s required – we can be there in 10 minutes.

“It’s a good place to live now but will be even better once the Armstrong Creek Town Centre is completed. I’m looking forward to us being able to walk down the street from home and eat at a wide variety of restaurants and cafes.”

While the new residents sort their lives at Armstrong Creek, others are beavering away to make the dream become reality.

Estate manager Ben Stewart says Warralily has sold more than 3000 lots since 2010 as part of its $1 billion development.

Almost 650 of the estate’s lots were sold in the last financial year alone.

“Construction is now underway on three stages of the broader 870-lot Grange precinct, including 149 home allotments and transformation of the Whites Road entry,“ Ben says.

Grange will extend west across Surf Coast Highway to blend with Warralily’s existing Coast, Promenade and Central precincts.

“It’s amazing to see how the neighbourhood will take shape, especially now the boundaries of the Grange Village Park are being defined,” Ben says.

“You get an amazing sense of the scale that will be delivered.”

With 7000 residents now in place, Warralily will eventually accommodate a community of 15,000 residents and a full array of community services.

A Woolworths supermarket has opened, an ALDI is on the way while 15 other businesses including eateries, medical and dental clinics, a chemist and gym have also opened at Warralily. McDonald’s and a 7-Eleven fuel outlet add to the conveniences.

“The neighbouring state-of-the art P6 Armstrong Creek school with integrated special needs is already open and construction of a secondary campus is on its way,“ Ben says.

“Next year the community will welcome the new sports pavilion, netball courts and sport fields, along with council’s integrated children’s and community centre.

“Families settling into the area will benefit from a vibrant retail hub alongside sport and recreation, education, childcare and community facilities rapidly coming on line.“

Demand is also growing for rentals, say property agents.

Armstrong Real Estate’s Sammy Brittain says the area’s rental market has “definitely increased over the last few years”.

“Our agency has been steadily expanding along with the growth of homes and infrastructure throughout the area,” she says.

“There’s been high demand for the area. Our rental figures have continued to grow and our open for inspections have hit record levels.”

The agency leased 26 properties in October, with the average marketing period only 11 days, Sammy says.

“We’re seeing young couples stating families, elderly couples downsizing or settling after travelling, couples in their 30s waiting for their own homes to be built, and even students moving from on-campus accommodation at Deakin University.

The lifestyle of being between the beach and the city, and the employment opportunities, are drawing people to the area,” she says.

“And having a brand new home to move into is very attractive for tenants.”