Sitting on the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park, Hawkesbury Heights is a sattelitle suburb of Springwood, and has a population of 426 according to the 2006 Census. While Springwood houses the local schools and train station, Hawkesbury Heights has a more rural setting and cheaper homes.
“What drives this area is it tends to be a bit cheaper than the Springwood area. If you have a husband and wife, one works in Richmond and the other in Springwood, it’s a good middle ground,” says Bartons Real Estate principal Mark Barton.
Hawkesbury Heights saw quite a boom in the late 80s, with its median price increasing almost eight times in as many years, rising from $13,309 in June 1987 to $103,500 by June 1995, according to Residex figures.
After a flat period, prices spiked again 1998 and continued upwards until the next significant slowdown in 2004. While this is a trend that all of our top five suburbs share, Barton believes that local factors were also at play during this period.
“Everyone was on tank water, but in 1998 there was a fire and straight after that everybody was hooked up with town water. That affected the cost of land, which was running at about $20,000 to $30,000, and next thing you know it hit $60,000,” he says.
Growth hit a rough patch during the economic slump of the mid-2000s, with Hawkesbury Heights’s median rising by only $10,468 in the 11 quarters between March 2004 ($309,847) and December 2006 ($320,315).
Growth then hit a purple patch, and in the eighteen months to June 2008 the Hawkesbury Heights median jumped by $76,035 to reach $396,350. This boom was perhaps fuelled by a resurgent economy, with GDP growth rising from 0.3% at the start of 2006 to 1.6% by the year’s end according to ABS figures.
Just as things were looking up, the GFC kicked in and by March 2009 Hawkesbury Heights’s median had tumbled to $371,080. This shift however may be short lived, with recent growth bringing prices back towards pre-GFC levels.
So what’s fuelled Hawkesbury Heights’s staying power? Barton believes that it’s all about location, with Hawkesbury Heights being far enough from Springwood to feel rurally peaceful without feeling too isolated.
“Hawkesbury Heights is only 10 to 12 minutes from Springwood, but you’re in more of a rural setting,” says Barton. “On the main road from Springwood to Hawkesbury Heights, the density of housing is maybe 400m either side of the road, and then after that it’s all valleys. I think nature is a very important part of people’s ideologies up here.”