As celebrity-watchers look to Palm Beach to capture Sydney's well-heeled at play, they might do better to turn their gaze to lesser-known beachfront escapes.
From Scotland Island in Sydney's north to Pearl Beach on the Central Coast, weekender destinations have been doing a roaring trade this year as high-end shoppers look for low-key destinations to buy a holiday home.
The renewed interest in holiday homes in key coastal pockets of New South Wales comes after years of being under-rated by Sydney buyers, according to Ray White director Dan White.
"We have seen a lot of buyers recently who have obviously taken equity out of the stockmarket and possibly their own homes and bought a coastal retreat this year," Mr White said.
"The most sought-after quality coastal property is in the $1 million to $1.5 million price bracket, and no more than 90 minutes from Sydney."
Cashing in on this year's bullish 51 per cent jump in house values in Pearl Beach is Hollywood star Toni Collette, her husband musician Dave Galafassi and Collette's parents, Bob and Judith Collett, who sold their jointly-owned weekender for $1.4 million through McGrath Gosford.
The four-bedroom weatherboard cottage set back from the beach on Tourmaline Avenue last traded in the property boom of 2004 at that price. However, at the time the local median was $925,000 - a high that was only matched again earlier this year.
In the year to October the median Pearl Beach value rose further to a new high of $1.21 million, according to Domain Group data.
Selling agent Stuart Gan says Pearl Beach used to lag high-end local beachside spots like Terrigal, Avoca Beach, Ettalong and Umina Beach but is now outstripping those areas in terms of capital growth.
Former Goldman Sachs managing director Robert Tsenin and his wife Estelle set the 2017 high for Pearl Beach when they paid $3.45 million for a house on absolute beachfront through Gan in March.
Scotland Island is set to host to former premier Kristina Keneally and her husband Ben these holidays after they spent $1,875,000 on a beachfront home, helping push the local median up 20.6 per cent in the past year to a median high of $980,000.
But the Keneallys aren't the only Sydney couple to rediscover the island's weekender market this year.
"As the Northern Beaches market has gone gangbusters people are looking at Scotland Island and the western foreshores of Pittwater and seeing real value," said Melanie Marshall, of PMC Hill Real Estate.
???Avoca Beach lost one of its highest profile weekender owners when radio broadcaster Alan Jones sold his apartment for $4.65 million to the Hochroth family from the eastern suburbs, which went some way towards the 11.2 per cent rise in house values of the past year.
In Coalcliff, south of Sydney, Sydneysiders have dominated all the top-end sales of $2 million or more, according to Ray White Helensburgh's Simon Beaufils.
Beaufils' most recent sale was the $3.35 million in November for the beachfront property of Melbourne-based retail boss Mark McInnes, who heads up Solomon Lew's Premier Investments.
McInnes bought the house for $2.5 million in 2007 for a then-record when he was a North Bondi local and chief of David Jones.
"The Sydney buyers went into hibernation for a few years there after the boom years of 2003 and 2004, but they have been out in force this year making good the high levels of equity from their Sydney homes," Beaufils said.
In Bundeena, on the edge of the Royal National Park, Sydney's well-heeled continue to push up local values, with Domain figures showing a median of $932,5000 up 3 per cent over the past year.
Professor Kerryn Phelps, AO, and her wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps set a record for the area when they sold their beachfront home for $3.3 million two years ago. More recent additions to the community include Susie Carleton, former wife of the late 60 Minutes reporter Richard Carleton, who has a rebuild underway of the $2 million beachfront house she bought a year ago.
Records show this year's high was a $2.8 million deal on the beachfront through Debbie Donnelley, of Phillips Pantzer Donnelley, to Dion Morrison and Charlotte Breen, the sister of prominent art collector and benefactor Sally Breen, who bought her local weekender two years ago for $2.95 million.