Pelligra tees up $50m for Kangaroo Island recoveryThe site for the first tee at The Cliffs golf course.

Pelligra tees up $50m for Kangaroo Island recovery

Melbourne-based developer Pelligra Group has become the key backer of a championship golf course project aimed at luring tourists back to South Australia’s Kangaroo Island after it was ravaged by devastating bushfires in January 2020.

The family-run company, headed by Ross Pelligra, has committed $50 million to the Pennington Cliffs Property Trust, which will invest in The Cliffs Kangaroo Island golf course and clubhouse due to open in April 2023.

The $20 million links-style golf course, designed by renowned golf course architect Darius Oliver, will be built on a spectacular 240-hectare clifftop site overlooking the Southern Ocean at Pelican Lagoon, on the eastern side of the island.

Future stages will include a hotel, restaurants and conference facilities as well as villas on residential allotments.

Preliminary site works began last week. The project is expected to take 12-15 months to complete and the first golfers are likely to tee up over the 2023 Easter weekend.

Kangaroo Island, which lies south-west of Adelaide in the Great Australian Bight, is the country’s third-largest island and is renowned for its natural beauty, tourism and agricultural produce. More than half of the island, including Flinders Chase National Park, was burnt out by the January 2020 bushfires.

Mr Pelligra said his family’s investment in The Cliffs Kangaroo Island was another example of its confidence in South Australia, after it acquired a high-rise development site in the Adelaide CBD last month.

“[Kangaroo Island] is a very special part of Australia. Visitors from all over the world will flock here to play links golf along these spectacular clifftops above the Southern Ocean,” Mr Pelligra said.

“Destination golf is booming across the globe. Why not bring it to one of the most iconic Australian tourist destinations, Kangaroo Island?”

Development of the golf course is being spearheaded by Sam Atkins, founder and owner of Adelaide Hills vineyard Fox Gordon.

Also on board is former Morgan Stanley executive Jack Dahan, who earlier this year led the $12.8 million acquisition of The Sands golf resort in Torquay on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula alongside fellow investors.

Mr Atkins and Mr Dahan acquired the site on Cathers Road in 2016 from the previous proponents of the golf course, listed Japanese human resource management company Persol, paying about $1.4 million.

Although an original proposal for a “destination” golf course was approved in 2016, Mr Atkins recruited Mr Oliver, designer of the renowned Cape Wickham Links project on Tasmania’s King Island, to revise the plans and create a golf course that could compete with the very best golf courses in Australia. This was approved in May 2017.

Michael Baragwanath, investment manager of The Pennington Cliffs Property Trust, said the balance of the $50 million committed by Pelligra Group would be invested in appropriate asset acquisitions and development on Kangaroo Island.

“Ross Pelligra joining the investor group means the fund’s investment in KI will quickly expand beyond the golf course and clubhouse, but we’ll keep further announcements a closely guarded secret for the time being.” Mr Baragwanath said.

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