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Sydney’s Palm Beach | Milkbottle

Sydney's Palm Beach

Palm Beach

Palm Beach is a 40 minute drive North from Sydney’s CBD and for Sydneysiders it is regarded as something of an antipodeans version of New Yorks’, Hampton’s. Perched at the apex of the Northern most peninsula of Sydney’s Metropolitan area. “The Peninsula” as it is called by locals is surrounded by surf beaches to the east with the soothing quieter waters of Pittwater lapping on the western shore. For more than a century Palm Beach has been a weekend and summer retreat for well heeled families. Pittwater is known for its great sailing spots and numerous secluded beaches.

Is it any wonder that the local community abounds with people from all walks? Alongside Palm Beaches’ grand houses, sit myriad interpretations of the humble weekender bustling with a bohemian collection of artists, tradespersons, surfers and Sydney locals, escaping the city for weekends and vacations. With it’s laid-back atmosphere many an International Celebrity have a quiet getaway in “Palmy”. A great number of the local houses were built for holidays and tend to be basic timber clad bungalows or fibro beach cottages.

Mitchell English is an artist and collector of 20th Century Furniture. His wife Helen retired from modelling on the catwalks of Europe and now is a Bridal Wear designer with a boutique in Paddington. The Englishes’ have always had a heart felt fondness for the Northern Beaches.

Mitchell spent many years living here as a child and like many who leave felt an irresistible urge to return. Mitchell is also keen surfer with an impressive collection of vintage surfboards. A serious painter Mitchell also required space where he could devote more time to his painting. Eldest son Louis shares his Father’s passion for long boarding and Palm Beach has perfect breaks for the Long boarder.

It seemed the perfect lifestyle choice for the growing family. Helen and her daughter Ines love the relaxed ambience of the Café society in nearby Avalon and the healthy cultural vivacity of life in this subtropical secret. With only a 40 minute drive, Helen could easily make it back to Sydney to meet with clients when needed, so the family made it official.

It took them nearly three years to take the plunge and purchase a house, Helen and Mitchell rented several homes in various parts of this surfside enclave to really get a feel for the area and make a full commitment to living away from the inner city.

It was Helen who first heard of this house becoming available for sale. To this day the original families who built them own many of the old cottages in the area and sales are often made through word of mouth privately. Becoming locals helped Helen and Mitchell keep an ear to the ground, it was only by chance that Helen was the first to hear that this dilapidated old beach house was soon to become available.

The house sits on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach, famous for it’s picturesque sunsets. A mountain of ancient Eucalypts at the rear of the property shield the house from blustery North Easterly winds. A palm sheltered gravel path directly opposite leads to the private and exclusive Snappermans Beach. Being fronted by private houses this beach is only frequented by residents even in peak season, beyond this is National Park. It is an idyllic spot,

“People don’t even know Snappermans Beach exists, it’s just magical” Says Helen “it inspires us everyday, it was a reflection of the abundant nature around us that helped create a feeling for the interiors”. Sitting here you can see why the harsh urban jungle of the City is not so enticing for this family.

Detail of retro European ceramic pots with tulips Dining table, Mitchell made this from recycled wood left over from the build
The painting was a gift from the German artist Markus Lupertz
left Detail of retro European ceramic pots with tulips
right Dining table, Mitchell made this from recycled wood left over from the build The painting was a gift from the German artist Markus Lupertz
Vintage poster ‘favor’ by Bellenger C1952 Small courtyard off Mitchell’s studio. The pots are old volcanic stone pots purchased in Bali,
the tribal masks and statues are mostly from Papua New guinea and purchased at auction
left Vintage poster ‘favor’ by Bellenger C1952
right Small courtyard off Mitchell’s studio. The pots are old volcanic stone pots purchased in Bali, the tribal masks and statues are mostly from Papua New guinea and purchased at auction

Images: Prue Ruscoe via Taverne Agency

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