Suburb Spotlight on Clovelly

This week, we continue our suburb deep dive series on the Sydney Property Insider Podcast via our Suburb Spotlight! Today, we’re focussing on the lovely area of Clovelly.

We discuss the history of the suburb, the demographics, upcoming development work, as well as the day-to-day specifics like local cafes, schools and transport


  • The history of Clovelly;
  • The original residents of the suburb;
  • The estates in the area during the 19th century;
  • Entry level prices;
  • Price data over past few years;
  • How tightly held property in the suburb is;
  • Transport links to the CBD;
  • Public transport on the way for the area;
  • Proximity to Prince of Wales Hospital;
  • School zoning;
  • Necessities in proximity;
  • An underwater trail; And
  • Dog friendly parks nearby





Michelle May – Sydney Buyers Agent

Marcus Roberts – Mortgage Broker







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Marcus: Good morning, and welcome to the Sydney Property Insider podcast, the show where we talk about all things property in the city of Sydney. Michelle, how are we this morning?

Michelle: Good. How are you?

Marcus: Very, very well. I have had a long weekend up in Byron. It was lovely, but also glad to be back in slightly cooler weather.

Michelle: I know. It’s good today, isn’t it? Not too hot.

Marcus: Really is. So today we are talking, we are doing our next in our series of suburb deep dives, and we’re focusing on the suburb of Clovelly. So, how it started, where it came from, where it is today and so forth. So Michelle, Clovelly.

Michelle: Yeah. A little bit of a history there to start you off with for those of you who don’t know, the advent of the suburb can be traced back to the extension of the tram line to the coast line, and before it, Clovelly was actually known as Little Coogee. The area was dominated during the 19th century by the grand estate of Mundarrah Towers. Now, those towers were demolished in 1926 to make way for more suburban development, and you know, make way for the way it looks more like today.

The infant school in Little Coogee was started as early as 1897, so early settlers there, and in the Mission Hall of the Church of England in Varna Street, and Clovelly Public School officially dates back from 1913.

Marcus: Wow.

Michelle: Yeah. So the major subdivisions for domestic housing, residential housing, commenced really from 1909. The local process association argued that there were 717 houses constructed within meters of the proposed tram route that had not yet been completed. Due to these lobbying efforts, the tram line to Clovelly was completed somewhere between 1912 and 1913. This allowed Clovelly to continue developing, obviously through this connection to the city and the rest of the other suburbs around it through the 1920s.

Unfortunately, they stopped operating that tram line in 1957. I mean-

Marcus: Which is amazing, given that here we are in 2018 and they’re looking at doing the city light rail back again.

Michelle: Yeah.

Marcus: So you may as well have just kept the tram lines after all.

Michelle: Yeah, really. I agree with you there. I mean, the closest it’s gonna get is Randwick, really, isn’t it? So, yeah. It’s a shame they stopped using that.

Clovelly was officially named after the seaside village of Clovelly in Devon, which is very picturesque. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but it’s a beautiful place. And Clovelly’s heyday was really between the end of the first World War in the 1930s. During the Great Depression Randwick Council had the great insight to start a scheme to keep the unemployed men employed by building concrete foreshores for Clovelly in an attempt to make access to the bay’s foreshores easier for bathers. So they’re already keeping the leisure activities in mind, which is great.

So they actually envisage an Olympic sized swimming pool in the bay. Again, that facility would also keep the local men employed during the worst of financial times. It was also planned to build a causeway, a scenic road across the entry to the bay but wild storms in ’38 dashed hopes of this. You can still see the remains of that causeway at low tide, and it sort of forms a protective reef, which is quite good. Now the plans were quite controversial at the time, but yeah, the merits for this work was still debated today.

Now, in 1907, the Surf Life-saving Brigade was formed, and inaugurating the surf live saving tradition in the suburb, which it still continues today. They’ve had a number of heroic rescues, most notably is mentioned the rescue of Clovelly, or the big rescue on Sunday, 4th of December 1927. They continue to have a predominant part of the culture and heritage in this suburb. Anybody who knows Clovelly immediately thinks of that beautiful beach there protected in a really nice inlet that’s safe for children to swim, as well. Obviously, also competitive swimming is still part of this suburb, so definitely one of the most beautiful seaside suburbs here.

Did you know that it’s actually called Cloey, not Clovelly, if you’re in the know, by the local residents? They tend to call it Cloey instead of Clovelly, so there you go.

Marcus: Wow. So yeah, that’s a great insight into the last hundred, hundred and twenty odd years of Clovelly’s history. Where is it today and what does Clovelly look like today in terms of, I guess, the statistics if you were someone looking to potentially buy either as your own home or as an investment property in the area? What are some of the things that you might want to know?

Michelle: Okay, so let’s talk statistics and property, which is what I love diving into. What we know is that obviously Clovelly is one of the most highly held and most prestigious of the beach-side suburbs in Sydney. So, I’d draw up some charts for you there, Marcus, that we can both look at now. For example, just to give you an idea of the median house price currently, in 2017, for that year it was $3,220,000. That’s the median, so that’s exactly in the middle. So, 59 properties were sold in that period, so around, what is it, 25, 27, you sit around the 3.2 mil. So there’s a huge number above that, huge number below that.

If you look at the cross segmentation of that, really you don’t get anything under two mil. So it’s to two mil and upwards, is what you’re looking at for a house.

Marcus: And as you said, Michelle, with the being tightly held, I can certainly attest to that. In terms of the numbers of properties sold each year, you’re looking just over 50 properties every year.

Michelle: Correct.

Marcus: So, maybe one a week. Which, really when you think about, and certainly I know from living in Annandale, as we go walking on weekends or during the week, seeing the number of for sale, or auction properties, there’s many, many more than one per week that would be being sold in our suburbs. Just over 50, so it really is, once people get in, they’re in.

Michelle: That’s right. They don’t leave. When you’re looking at the dwellings structures, so even if you break down the suburb, what is apartment versus house, just further down there, you see that 47% are apartments or units, flats, and the rest, so just over 50% is either a separate house, a free-standing house, or a semi terrace, right?

So, it’s really interesting. It’s sort of 50/50. But when I look delved into this deeper, again going back to how tightly held it is, when I looked at apartments for clients who, they were looking to buy two or three bedroom apartment with parking in Clovelly, so this was just a month ago. When I did the research, it actually turned out that in the year previous, so from end of Feb last year to end of Feb now of this year, only 28 apartments that fit that brief, sold. It’s amazing that, it’s no wonder that people can’t get in the market there because 28 of, two to three bed, one to two bath, and one car, sold in that period.

The median price of that type of property was 1.3 million. So, you do have to have a considerable amount of money compared to other suburbs around. When you’re looking, for example, let’s look at the surrounding properties. You’ve got Coogee, where 116 apartments sold with those criteria for a median price of 1195. Maroubra is the most affordable of the lot, being further south there, at 950. And 125 apartments sold there. Bronte and Bondi Beach were more expensive. Bronte only had 26 for sale in that pocket. 1465 was the median. Bondi Beach was 70 for sale, so obviously Bondi Beach consists of a lot more apartments than-

Marcus: Much bigger beach, as well.

Michelle: Absolutely, yeah.

Marcus: And much bigger suburb.

Michelle: Absolutely. So, that had the median price of 147. Clovelly is right up there. Bondi itself was 1.2. But obviously, yeah, you need to have a fair amount of money up your sleeve when you want to come to Clovelly. But it’s a beautiful suburb, obviously.

Now, when we’re looking at median house prices and how it’s increased over the years, the last negative growth, really, was in 2012. Since then, it’s had 20%, 10%, 5%, 41% growth. So year-on-year, you’re looking at an enormous amount of capital growth, had you bought in 2012 and before, obviously. You’d be doing quite well compared to the rest of the market as well.

Apartments, same thing. The last negative growth was in 2012. Since then, it’s had double digits every year. Now, if you buy the right thing in that suburb, obviously there’s still under-performance in every suburb, but Clovelly is one of those suburbs where there will always be underlying demand, should you buy the right property there.

When you’re looking at apartments, let’s look at the median price there. I mentioned for two to three bedrooms, one to two bath, and one car, last year it was 135. But actually overall, it’s slightly higher than that at 1385 over 2017. Overall, of all apartments, it was only 46 apartments that were sold, which is, that’s a tiny, tiny number.

Marcus: That’s a tiny amount, given the amount of stock that is there. It’s just tightly held stock.

Michelle: Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. Then looking at where the largest number of sales are, is really around that 1.2 to 1.5 million dollar mark. It sort of starts off from 800,000, but that would be a tiny one bedder, maybe even a studio. Then it can go up to over three mil for-

Marcus: For an apartment in the area.

Michelle: … a penthouse. Yeah. Beach views, and all this kind of stuff. So, when you’re looking at rents, as well, rents are really interesting because if you’re looking at a one bed apartment, it rents for 600 dollars a week, on the median. So, obviously there’s more expensive and cheaper, but the halfway mark is 600. Going up to three bed is, you’re just under 1,000 dollars a week at 975. It’s steep.

With houses, let me just have a quick look. The houses, the two bed houses start from median 900, going up to four bed houses, nearly 2,000 dollars a week, just to give you a ball park figure.

Marcus: Again, that certainly speaks to the attractiveness of the suburb itself, being at for a four bedroom house in Clovelly, near Clovelly Beach, in that little pocket there, that would be certainly something that many families would probably love to get their hands on, so it makes sense that the rents are where they are.

Michelle: Yeah, and as you can tell, for the family compositions, there’s a lot of families there in that suburb. 50% is couples, 47% I should say accurately. You get the one parents families, as well. Then you just get the other major makeup is couples together. When you’re looking at how they are living there, in terms of home ownership, the rental statistics, 38% in Clovelly is a tenant. 38% of people living there is a tenant, and the rest is either, they own it outright, or they still have a mortgage on it.

So, that’s a smaller amount than a lot of suburbs in the area. I know that Randwick, for example, has a lot more tenants, having that [inaudible 00:13:30] university as well, of course. But yeah, that shows you that people love living there, as well. It’s one of those suburbs, if you get too much a high proportion of tenants, it changes the face of the suburbs. Not only in the way that it’s being looked after, because obviously owner occupies tend to take more pride in the way their property looks. But also just the overall underlying demand for it, for owner occupies will continue to stay. That’s really great for if you’re looking to buy into that suburb, it’s very hard to get into, but once you’re in, again, you need to buy the right property, of course. There’s always those under performers on main roads and stuff, but you would continue to do well for the future. So those are the numbers from my part.

Marcus: Truly fascinating, especially the percentage that are tenants, as you say, in that 38% bracket. Which again, less than somewhere like Randwick where you’ve got University of New South Wales-

Michelle: Absolutely, and the hospital.

Marcus: … and you’ve got Prince of Wales Hospital, and so forth. Again, a really attractive suburb for couples, for families, and so forth, because you have the beach right there, and you are still close to places like Bondi Junction if you need shopping, and relatively close to the city, as well.

Michelle: Yeah, and compared to other suburbs it may not have the public transport facilities that other suburbs do, but I think the draw of the beach there and the surrounding suburbs that are perhaps better connected will always make sure that Clovelly is one of these best suburbs to live in, in Sydney, for sure.

Marcus: For sure. In line with that, certainly speaking about transport and how do you get to the city, how do you get to various places, Clovelly is going to be one of those suburbs that you probably do want a car. You probably do want a garage if possible, because many of those blocks of units don’t necessarily have parking space, except road parking.

But you can certainly still get to the city. You can take public transport. Trains are a bit tricky. If you do need a train, you’re going to need to get yourself to Bondi Junction, to then get on the train line from the eastern suburbs, into the city, then out west. There are bus services, especially during rush hour. We’ve got the Express 40, or the X40, which between 6:30 and 8:30 every morning, there’s one every five to 15 minutes. Those take you all the way into town, into New Museum Station.

But then outside those areas you’ve got the 338, which will take you to Central. Then of course Central you can get on a train anywhere. 339, which would take you to Modern Place. And something we mentioned around the tram lines, unfortunately it only does, will go to Randwick. However, if you can get to Randwick once the Sydney light rail has been put in place, that will eventually link you all the way into town. So if you can get to Randwick, you will take the light rail, supposedly every few minutes, will then take you all the way down, basically, to the rocks.

It is, however, as we’ve said slightly trickier than somewhere, say, somewhere like Marrickville, which we’ve spoken about before, which has a dedicated train line to get buses and so forth.

In terms of school catchment zones, because we’ve mentioned that families are predominantly the people that are looking to live there, for primary schools you’ve got Clovelly Public School, which to the south is sort of the border of that catchment area. Then you’ve got Coogee to the south, you’ve got Randwick to the west, and then you’ve got Bronte to the north, because of course if you go further east, you’re just going to end up in the ocean.

Secondary school is via a much larger catchment zone, which incorporates Randwick Boys and Randwick Girls. Those encapsulate most of, well, all of Clovelly, plus some of the other areas, and to the south and north. Again, if school catchment zones are something that are of interest to you, if you’re a family, or if you’re looking to start a family and are looking for a place to live for the next few years, you can always go to, which will give you a few years’ history of the demographics, test scores, etc. Again, as we’ve done prior we’ll put the link to in the show notes.

Then, if you’re living there, so if you’re looking to live there and you want to spend a Saturday morning one morning, you do have … it’s really a lifestyle suburbs.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Marcus: You’ve got a great selection of cafes, you’ve got a great selection at restaurants. You’ve got all the way up Clovelly Road, you’ve got the Clovelly Social House, to Gordon’s, to Seesaw Café overlooking the beach, and the Clovelly Hotel, the local pub, has a great vibe. It’s right near the beach for an after beach drink, or an after walk drink.

Michelle: Well, you deserve it if you’ve done that big walk.

Marcus: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that you can certainly do is the Bondi to Coogee walk, which of course is very famous. If you, I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it, but I think if you ever go on Trip Advisory, it’s always one of the first few things that you can see in Sydney, is that Bondi to Coogee.

But then something that I wasn’t aware of, and too, you mentioned earlier, Michelle, was the Gordon’s Bay Underwater Nature Trail, which is sort of a self-guided scuba diving or snorkelling adventure, where the trail itself can almost be compared to a bushwalking track in the wilderness, but under water.

Michelle: That’s right.

Marcus: You dive under water, and it takes about 40 minutes to dive across that 600 meters. On a clear day it’s possible to snorkel that trail from the surface. There’s a number of steel plaques attached to concrete drums, linked together by chains, with some information about the local sea life.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, you’re likely to spot some starfish, some sea urchins, cuttlefish, and blue gropers, and it should take you around 40 minutes to complete. By that point you’re probably tuckered out, so it might be time to go to the Clovelly Hotel from there.

Michelle: That’s right. That’s a great day. You really get to enjoy it, because Clovelly, like you said, is a lifestyle suburb. My clients ended up started off casting the net wide around Bondi, and Coogee, and Maroubra, but they just loved Clovelly. They were renting there at the time, and we kept coming back to that suburb because it’s a gorgeous place to live.

Marcus: Absolutely.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely great suburb.

Marcus: In terms of your daily amenities and your basic amenities in the area, your local Woolworths is about two kilometre walk, or 20 minute walk from Clovelly, and locating Coogee near the Coogee Bay Hotel. If you do need a Coles it’s a bit further afield, and near the Prince of Whales Hospital in Randwick.

Then for your, I guess, your local shopping centre, really is going to Bondi Junction, which is a 15 minute bus ride, or a 10 to 15 minute car trip.

Michelle: And of course you’ve got the smaller IGAs and local shops, of course.

Marcus: Yeah, absolutely. Only if you’re doing that big weekly shop.

Michelle: That’s right.

Marcus: Dog parks, Clovelly again, something that I’ll be hit over the head if I don’t mention, Burrows Park and Bondi Park are both great for walking your dog. The great thing about, again, living by the ocean is you’ve got those beautiful views over the ocean, and fantastic at sunrise. I’m sure it’s nice at sunrise, I’ve never seen a sunrise. But certainly at sunset, as well, it should be very pretty.

Michelle: You make me laugh. But you know, I can assure you, it is beautiful at sunrise. I have done it. Also of course, you can take your dog on the Bondi to Coogee walk.

Marcus: Yes.

Michelle: I mean, a bit annoying sometimes, too many dogs, tripping over them. But most of them are very good, they’re on the lead, and great, great workout for both you and your dog, so I highly recommend doing that sometime.

I think that’s about it for Clovelly, I think. Obviously there’s lots more.

Marcus: Yeah, that’s a good intro.

Michelle: Yeah, I think there’s lots more to talk about. If you’ve got any more questions regarding Clovelly property, always just email us, of course, at [email protected]

Did you want to add anything else, Marcus? Have we covered everything now?

Marcus: No, I think that’s a really good intro for the time being. As we say, if you do have any questions about either the suburb itself, or if you’ve got questions about anything that we’ve spoken in prior episodes, or things to come in later episodes, please let us know. That’s [email protected], or check out our Facebook page, which you can find simply by searching Sydney Property Insider.

All for us for this week. Have a lovely week everyone, and we’ll speak to you soon.

Michelle: Catch up next week.

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