‘Lamborghinis, Caviar & Cannabis’: How The Northern Rivers Became Australia’s Millionaire Playground

Sounds like a good time to me...

‘Lamborghinis, Caviar & Cannabis’: How The Northern Rivers Became Australia’s Millionaire Playground

In spite of a wider property crisis and a recent celebrity exodus, it seems that one New South Wales region is actually turning into the secret new hotspot for millionaire getaways and good times.

While Sydney’s luxury property market has boomed this week, with David Bowie and George Michael’s properties selling for record-breaking figures, it seems the real fun is being had a few miles up shore…

So, if you’re looking for an Aussie paradise that combines high-end luxury and laid-back vibes, look no further than the Northern Rivers.

According to a new report from market analyst Propertyology, this area has become the most affluent region in the whole of Australia – but with the heady and “fascinating combination of Lamborghinis, kombi vans, caviar and cannabis” floating about up there, I’m not sure we needed a full report to tell us that…

Where the report does come in handy, however, is by telling us exactly how the Northern Rivers became such a hotspot: Propertyology looked at median house values from the past five years and contrasted them with the region’s population growth over the same period.

It also investigated the amount of mortgage-free homes in the area, and the ratio of said homes that have seen successful sales. Safe to say, the results speak for themselves…

The region, which encapsulates Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Lismore, Richmond Valley and the Tweed regions amongst others now boasts a population of 300,000 people.

Chris Hemsworth’s recently-vacated Byron pile. Image: Daily Mail

Despite eye-wateringly high house prices, a majority of homes are owned outright, with some areas exceeding the national average of 31%. In Yamba and Iluka, to take just two examples, over half of all homes are owned outright.

One reason for the region’s success has been its ability to attract high-income executives and celebrities. Byron Bay, in particular, has seen a major real estate value growth, from a $110,000 average in the 1990s to a staggering peak of $2 million in 2022, before backsliding to a relatively modest $1.6 million this year.

“Byron’s market performance has been reflective of the city’s economy relying heavily on tourism,” says Simon Pressley, head of research at Propertyology.

“Over the last 10 years, Byron Bay’s ability to attract high-income executives and celebrities to live there, even though many of them earn their income elsewhere, has built extra resilience into its property market.”

Simon Pressley

But there’s so much more to this than Byron, which is actually experiencing a celebrity exodus as we speak… Lismore has also seen impressive growth in real estate values, outperforming most of Australia over the last decade with a 60% capital growth over the last five years.

“It’s for my glaucoma!” Northern Rivers is Australia’s medicinal cannabis hotspot… A big draw for the overworked execs? Image: Telegraph

Despite frequent floods and the decline of major industries – such as the dairy and forestry industries that once thrived there – Lismore’s sturdy and growing population size of 44,500 along with major educational facilities in the area have helped it to thrive.

But there’s more to this than property: the area is known for the ready availability of natural and alternative health treatments, a blossoming local produce scene, as well as the easy accessibility of and laid-back attitude towards cannabis… On top of all that good news, the NSW Government has recently invested $1 billion in infrastructure, building hospitals across the region.

So, if you’re a cashed-up exec or man-of-the-moment celeb looking to live the high life or live life high, then we might have found the place for you. Plus, with Hemsworth and Efron having recently vacated, there are two less ripped dudes strolling around in their swimmers trying to steal your missus. Win-win, eh?