Before it became Noosa Springs, it was an area of overgrown trees and swamps on the banks of shallow Lake Weyba, with some cleared land that was used as a place to breed quarter horses.
Owned by John and Donna Hoffman, Weyba Ranch hosted the annual Noosa picnic races – a social highlight for Noosa trendsetters who trekked into the wilderness each year in their finery.
But by 1992, the property had fallen into receivership and Noosa architect and developer Alan Starkey – with a dream in his head to create a residential golf course development like no other in Australia – bought 103ha of land, surrounded by Crown land and national parks.
Mr Starkey’s vision was to establish a world-class residential precinct made up of beautiful homes, designed to meld with the environment; a superb golf course carved out of the bushland; and a splendid resort offering the sort of activities that would make living at Noosa Springs a joy.
Above all, he wanted to create something unique – to pursue a level of excellence that would deliver a development that would stand the test of time and of which Noosa would be proud.
He travelled the world, inspecting the best examples of golf-based residential developments, then sat down and drew up a master plan. It specified and positioned the various stages of the residential development – even the number of homes in each precinct.
As Noosa Springs took shape over the next two decades, it followed almost every line of that original master plan, testament to Alan Starkey’s skill as an architect as much as to his vision.
Noosa Springs grew to become one of the best golf-based residential communities in the country, the golf course one of Australia’s finest, and Noosa Springs Golf and Spa Resort an integrated resort of national significance.
Alan Starkey and his son Phillip are particularly pleased with the community they have been able to nurture, describing the residents of Noosa Springs as a family.
“We’ve been able to create a social atmosphere,” Alan Starkey says. “There are different opportunities – golf, tennis and the like – for people to come together, and enjoy themselves as a community.”
The Starkey family sold Noosa Springs to a Hong Kong developer in 2014. The current owner, Noosa Springs Investment Pty Ltd, is an offshoot of major Hong Kong-based real estate and resort developer Golden Horse Nine Dragon Lake Holdings.
But they remain closely involved in Noosa Springs and its activities, and are justifiably proud of their role in creating such an extraordinary legacy.