Sitting 12km north of Margaret River, Cowaramup’s astonishing average annual growth rate of 16.43% (Residex) has seen its median property price increase 20-fold in 20 years, rising from $23,499 in September 90 to $484,948 in September 10.
Marketed as being the centre of the Margaret River wine region, Cowaramup is probably best known for hosting the annual Margaret River Wine Festival. Its population was 569 at the last Census in 2006, but numbers swell during the peak season when visitors flock to the area to explore the local wineries, beaches and countryside. An average of 455,400 visitors come to the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River each year, according to Tourism WA figures.
Cowaramup’s timeline shows remarkable consistency, with capital growth going along steadily between 1990 and 2008. In fact, Cowaramup saw an incredible 71 consecutive quarters of positive growth between September 1990 and June 2008, with its median rising from $23,499 to $499,053, according to Residex figures.
From here on things go awry, with four out of the next nine quarters recording negative growth, indicating that even Western Australia’s most consistent performer wasn’t immune to the GFC. Prices have crept up recently, but Cowaramup’s September 10 median of $484,948 is still $14,105 shy of its pre-GFC peak.
Cowaramup’s expansion prospects may have taken a hit recently, but it’s still in the midst of an ambitious plan to more than triple its population in line with pre-GFC population growth.
“In 1993 the Shire recognised that growth was going to be much bigger than they’d planned for, so they asked the local farmers if they’d be happy to release some land to deal with that pressure,” says Stocker Preston Cowaramup Principal Jill Turton.
“Then in 2001 the Shire put a strategy in place to grow Cowaramup town, which was at the time about 600 residents, to about 3,000 residents. And we’re currently in that growth programme.”
Census figures for the Cowaramup Urban Centre indicate that population growth was strong over the last decade, with resident numbers rising from 375 in 2001 to 569 in 2006. The proportion of occupied dwellings that were rented also rose during this period from 26.7% to 30.7% (33% for the larger ‘State Suburb’ category).