SYDNEY • Two prospective buyers from Singapore have expressed their interest in a small, picturesque Australian village that was placed on the market late last week, The Straits Times has learnt.
The new owner of Tarraleah village, in the heart of Australia's Tasmania state, is set to own dozens of homes, a lake full of trout and salmon and 35 highland cattle.
Property agents said they hoped the 145.5ha site - less than one-third the size of Sentosa island in Singapore - could fetch up to A$13 million (S$13.6 million).
"There has been a lot of interest although we only started marketing last week because this is very rare - an entire town has been put up for sale," said property agent John Blacklow, who has been selling hotels for more than three decades but has never sold a village before.
Since the listing was put up, the village has already attracted prospective buyers - both individuals and companies - from within Australia and elsewhere.
Mr Blacklow told The Straits Times yesterday that the two prospective buyers from Singapore are "separate individuals", and that about seven or eight people from China are also keen on the site.
The village in the Central Highlands was originally built in the 1920s and 1930s to support 2,000 hydroelectric workers.
But as the dams and power stations that serviced southern Tasmania became automated, staff were no longer required. It fell into disrepair in the 1980s and 1990s as people moved out of Tarraleah to work on other projects around the state.
Property developer Julian Homer bought the entire village in 2003 - which by then had become rundown - and restored the Art Deco buildings to turn Tarraleah into a tourism-focused site.
Mr Blacklow said: "He's finally finished renovation after 13 years and the whole town - all the buildings and infrastructure - have been done up to a very high standard."
But Mr Homer does not want to run the village, Mr Blacklow said, adding: "Now, it's ready for an operator to take over and continue operations as a tourism village for accommodation, mainly."
Tarraleah, which agents said brings in an annual revenue of A$2.1 million, has no permanent residents today - only tourism-related staff.
Visitors can fish at the lake, go hiking, play golf, have a drink at a bar and stay in cottages - while enjoying the company of ducks, geese and native animals like kangaroos, wallabies and tasmanian devils.
Former resident Ingrid Mitchell, who lived in the village in the 1960s when her father worked at the station, said she was "very sad" to hear Tarraleah was for sale and wanted it to remain in local hands.
"It was a thriving community," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "We used to have a Christmas party at the hall every year. (Those were) great times."
The sale of residential property and farmland to foreigners, including Australia's largest trading partner China, is a sensitive issue, with Canberra knocking back some sales on national interest grounds.
•Additional reporting by Walter Sim