A parcel of land that was once home to a mysterious religious sect led by a man “who thought he was Jesus” has hit the market in the holiday township of Bright in north-east Victoria.
When current owner Miles Davis purchased the property five years ago, it had fallen into disrepair and was covered in overgrown vegetation.
He has since spent hundreds of hours and around $250,000 restoring the property – now known as The Place at Bright – to its former glory.
Among the collection of buildings on the 21,620-square-metre site at 441 Back Porepunkah Road is a distinctive double-brick building housing a pyramid style central room, which was the sect’s former chapel, alongside eight bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom. Also on the property is a reception building and a two-bedroom caretakers’ cottage.
“I had a big vision to be the person who could do the conference thing-event-wedding business. That was my vision when I bought the property and I have worked pretty hard for the past 12 months to get everything into place for that,” Mr Davis said.
“Now that I have got close to pulling the trigger I just have had a rethink and from a lifestyle point of view, I am 53 and I have other work that I do that is more related to my hobbies.
“I am just doing it from a lifestyle decision. It is regretful in some ways. I am under no pressure to sell it and emotionally part of me wishes I was still going forward but I know the smart choice is to focus on lifestyle at this point.”
The site was developed in the early 1980s by a religious group known as Christ’s Place of Restoration.
Mr Davis said there was no history available online about the religious group, which called the site home until the 1990s, but through his own research, he discovered it was touted as a place of spiritual healing.
“It was a bit of a crazy guy who thought he was the next Jesus and he started his own religion, his own church,” he said. “The guy was a bit out there and [there was] probably a bit of damage done to some of the people involved.
“The money that was spent … Any tradie who has been around to help me with jobs on the place [and other visitors] can’t get their head around how much money was invested in the infrastructure.”
Mr Davis spent considerable time bringing the property’s garden – which includes specimen trees almost 50 years old – back to life. “It was extremely overgrown because it had been vacant for quite a while,” he said. “You couldn’t see the roads, the footpaths, you couldn’t see the trees. There was no line of sight.”
He also installed services such as electricity, a water system and a telephone connection.
Dickens Real Estate principal Gerard Gray is selling The Place at Bright via an expressions-of-interest campaign and expects offers around $3 million.
“Historically, there was a lot of mystique around the religious group that formulated the development of the property as effectively a residential retreat but in recent years it has dropped from the memory of even local residents,” Mr Gray said.
“It is now ready for a repurpose, redevelopment and even a residential subdivision as it occupies such a prominent location within Bright’s canvas of exceptional properties.”
With a multipurpose redevelopment planning permit from Alpine Shire in place, the development property’s future uses could include a tourism or venue related development, or it could be turned into a residential subdivision of five 4046-square-metre (one acre) lots.
The western edge of the site, held under a long term Crown lease, has an additional area of 6000 square metres.
Expressions of interest close on November 25.