$61m Gisborne farm sale to change town forever

39 Willowbank Rd, Gisborne, sold for $61.1 million to a Melbourne developer.

The staggering $61.1 million sale of a Gisborne farm will “change the face” of the Macedon Ranges township.

Home to the Duggan family for more than 85 years, the 75.67ha property at 39 Willowbank Rd was snapped up last month by Melbourne developer ID Land.

The buyer plans to transform the farm, named Linden Vale, into a housing estate with 600 lots, a primary school and reserves.

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Longtime Gisborne resident Helen Sankey says the sale will be life-changing for the Duggans.

Her parents knew the family that had run cattle for decades at the property, which Sankey now lives two doors down from.

It will catapult Gisborne from a smaller Macedon Ranges township to a bigger player in the region

“It is an amazing sale for the family. It will change the face of Gisborne,” she says.

The 46-year-old also has a strong connection to the township, having lived there her whole life, and the local Sankey Reserve being named after her father, Tom.

Sankey says the development of Linden Vale has been on the cards, as it is in a designated growth area bordering Willowbank and Brooking roads and the Calder Freeway.

It is in a general residential zone as stated in the Macedon Ranges Shire Council outline development plan (ODP), she says.

Gisborne farm Willowbank

39 Willowbank Rd, Gisborne, is in a growth zone next to new residential estates.

The new estate will meet strong demand for housing in the region — but Sankey hopes it will be supported by infrastructure development, including more schools, sporting grounds, shops and roads.

“Scarcity is pushing up prices, and this development will give our children the chance to afford the Australian dream of home ownership,” she says.

“We need new roads to cope with the traffic congestion. A drive down to the shops can be quite a nightmare and there are huge parking issues, especially on a Saturday morning.”

The high-density nature of the development — which will have an average lot size of 600-650sqm — is a concern for local residents.

“Country towns are all about bigger blocks where people can raise families and still play cricket in the backyards,” Sankey says.

“Small blocks and increased congestion defeat the purpose of people coming out here in the first place.”

Gisborne and Mt Macedon Historical Society vice president Phyllis Boyd OAM, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, has seen “huge changes” to the township.

It is an amazing sale for the family. It will change the face of Gisborne

“Gisborne has become a commuter town with plenty happening in all its nooks and crannies,” she says.

“It was inevitable that a property like Linden Vale would not remain a farm for much longer.”

Boyd describes the Duggans as private people, and the local historical society holds few, if any records about the property.

Local real estate agents say the sale is a “natural progression” and an opportunity to meet the demand for homes in the area.

Raine & Horne Gisborne agent and resident of 12 years Robert Hall says the sale is “great for the town”, as “you can’t stop progress in this high-growth area”.

RT Edgar director Rhys Nuttall also welcomed the development.

“It will catapult Gisborne from a smaller Macedon Ranges township to a bigger player in the region,” he says.

CoreLogic records suggest the deal is easily the biggest sale Gisborne has ever seen, with the top reported price previously $10.8 million, achieved by an office building on Aitken St in 2013.

The Duggan family was contacted for comment.

This article from Leader Newspapers originally appeared as “‘Amazing’ $61.1m sale of Gisborne farm will ‘change the face’ of the township”.