There are 39 billionaires in Australia, and I would not be surprised if some of them took a peek at the property,” says Cotton. “Quite apart from the appeal of the house itself, the setting is so secluded that it would make a perfect hideaway for someone rich and famous.”
Australians have a reputation for being down-to-earth, but architecturally, they are the complete opposite. These days, they are raising the bar for ultra-modern design, building homes so fantastic that they look like drawings in a sci-fi comic strip.
“This could be a set from Star Wars,” says David Cotton, the Australian estate agent marketing what has to be one of the most futuristic homes ever to come on the market.
He is not wrong. The pictures in the brochure could be of a vast spider-shaped spaceship from which Martians are about to disembark, having landed in a pond in the middle of a forest. Only when you start to take in the details do you realise that you are looking at a six-bedroom beachfront property in northern Queensland, yours for £7.5 million.
Set in 30 hectares of rainforest, and just 15 minutes by helicopter from Cairns, the Alkira Resort House has already won multiple awards for its designer, Charles Wright. The owner, philatelist Rod Perry, had given him a simple brief. “I want a house that is unlike anything that has ever been built before.”
Well, he has certainly got his wish. Some elements in the design, such as the polished terrazzo floors and the extensive use of solar power, will be familiar from other contemporary properties. But the bold, open-plan layout, with wings spreading out in all directions, like the tentacles of an octopus, is unique.
As one awards jury put it, the property’s durable concrete fabric has been “shaped and patterned around its quirky personal spaces”. It creates “an other-worldly presence” in one of the most pristine landscapes in the world.
There is even a homage to Perry’s favourite postage stamp – the One Pound Jimmy – in the eccentrically shaped swimming pool. It would never get planning permission in Maidenhead or East Grinstead. The authorities would take one look at the over-the-top design and roll about laughing. But Australia, with its vast open spaces, can readily accommodate properties that look more 23rd century than 21st.