"Airlie Beach home with colourful backstory hits the market" Jonathon Chancellor, 'Property Observer'
Airlie Beach is a popular coastal resort town in north-eastern Australia, situated in a region of Queensland known as the Whitsundays. Off the coast at this location are the 70+ islands of the Whitsundays group and the central portion of the Great Barrier Reef. Airlie Beach is a popular destination for outdoor sports such as sailing, fishing, and scuba and snorkelling. The climate in the Whitsundays is said to be similar to that of Tahiti.
Whilst the house for sale is both prominent and unique in its own right, the estate in which it situated is even more so.
I’d imagine that there wouldn’t have been too many survivalists kicking around in Airlie Beach in the 1980’s, but there was at least one. And his name was Donald McDonald.
Don and his wife were apparently quite a sight round Airlie Beach, more often than not dressed in clothing more likely to be seen around Sydney’s Double Bay. Anyway Don had an unusual vision and the funds to pursue it.
Don bought and subdivided a rain-forested hill just east of Airlie Beach in the late 1970's. He bought the land from Frank Lee, who subsequently built Coral Sea Resort. Don christened his purchase, ‘Parc Exclusif’. The brochures he produced promised parkland, houses and apartments, and a private hospital. Extracts from the brochures are provided on this page and elsewhere in this web site. Indeed, scans of both complete brochures can be forwarded to readers upon request.
Don's target market was said to be greying deposed African dictators and the like, whose welfare was be ensured by ex-SAS guards. Anyhow, whilst waiting for customers with zebra swishes to appear, he began by building an enormous sturdy house and extensive infrastructure. This included a lengthy paved private road built to highway standards, various unpaved roads (now exotically overgrown), and enormous lengths of galvanised water piping across the estate, with many water tanks and a pump house connected to the town water supply.
For years after the home was built, both it and the reportedly eccentric habits of an owner who visited the construction site almost daily, formed the stuff of legend for the local construction and building trades community.
Don similarly indulged himself with regards to the interior of his house. It features, for example, solid core timber doors throughout, each fitted with five hinges, and at least two substantial slide bolts and a keyed lock. Indeed, the two doors at each end of the central corridor boast six heavy-duty hinges, four slide bolts, a keyed lock, and bore holes that enable the speedy installation of cyclone bars. Downstairs, should you be feeling peckish, you can fossick in your own substantial food storage room which includes two of the largest cold-rooms you would see in a domestic situation. There is also a discrete private bar area and a Jacuzzi.
Sadly Ron’s fortunes took a tumble and a receiver moved in before Ron ever could, although by that stage his mansion was at least 95% complete. The sleeping giant of a house then sat empty for many years, looking down from its prime position above the Airlie Beach CBD, and later also the Port of Airlie development. The estate was subsequently bought by Don Algie and renamed 'Chesapeake Estate'.
(Footnote: Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat sadly, the current Covid-19 situation seems to have regenerated interest in survivalist-style real estate)