Sydney-based developer Sheargold Group has acquired the hot springs and eco-resort site opposite Victoria’s famous 12 Apostles tourism spot on the Great Ocean Road, after agreeing to pay more than $15 million.
The 79-hectare rural property on Booringa Road in Princetown was put up for sale in July by developers Don Musto, of Rocdon, Peter Quattro of Quattro Corp, and Dug Pomeroy, of Pomeroy Pacific, after they had secured approval for a 4092 sq m eco-resort, including 363 sq m of bathing facilities, 150 accommodation pods, a wellness spa and conference facilities.
The original idea for the resort dates to 2017 when Mr Musto sensed there was an opportunity to capitalise on the millions of people annually that visit or drive past the towering rock formations jutting out of the sea, an hour west of Cape Otway.
He then discovered there was a site next door to the 12 Apostles visitors’ centre already zoned to accommodate a major tourist facility, and got a foot on the property.
An artist’s impression of the approved 12 Apostles Hot Springs development. 
But with cost to construct the project ballooning to about $100 million, Mr Musto and his partners decided to sell after getting it to the shovel-ready stage. This included securing planning approval, all necessary permits, and confirming the presence of thermal hot water almost 1000 metres below surface.
The price paid by Sheargold remains confidential, but it is understood a deal was struck above the $15 million guidance when the site came onto the market in July.
While it has predominantly focused on residential estates stretching along the NSW coastline from Nowra in the south to Taree in the north, Sheargold managing director Michael Sheargold said the acquisition of the 12 Apostles site was an exciting opportunity to expand into a new geographical market and sector.
The 12 Apostles are one of the country’s most famous natural landmarks. Neal Pritchard
“I’m confident our experience of over 60 years developing great projects across the residential, industrial and commercial sectors, along with our deep understanding of what it takes to deliver major regional projects, will stand us in good stead for the delivery of the 12 Apostles Hot Springs and Resort,” he said.
Sheargold has already started putting together the project delivery team, including hiring Steven Toia, principal at architects Genton, who designed the new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta and the Morris Moor precinct at the former Phillip Morris cigarette factory site in Melbourne.
“The 12 Apostles carved from the mainland’s limestone cliffs are one of Australia’s great natural icons. We see our design reflecting this impressive Australian landscape, inspired by this very special place along the Australian coast,” Mr Toia said.
The development will include multiple bathing pools. 
Stonebridge Property Group’s Julian White and Chao Zhang, alongside HTL Property’s Andrew Jolliffe and Andrew Jackson, negotiated the sale of the site.
Mr White said a severe lack of accommodation or associated leisure activities close to one of Australia’s most visited tourism destinations generated more than 250 inquiries from local, interstate and international groups.
Mr Jolliffe said the successful sale of the site reflected the “irreplaceability” of the location combined with tailwinds such as the immigration boom and the tightening of geopolitical tension in other regions around the world.
The development of a luxury eco-resort opposite the 12 Apostles will add to a plethora of wellness facilities being developed in Australia and globally.
Noteworthy projects in Victoria include the planned $100 million redevelopment of the historic Burnham Beeches estate in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne into Australia’s first Six Senses resort and spa by Smorgon family-backed developer Trenerry.
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