Swim star Susie O’Neill selling South Yeronga riverside house

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It was the grand home on a perfect riverfront setting that swim star Susie O’Neill, aka Madame Butterfly, and her family had planned to build until busy family life just got in the way.

Located on an expansive absolute riverside block on Rome Street, South Yeronga, that slopes down to a bend in the Brisbane River, the Brisbane-based Olympic champion and her family bought the original 1950s house with a vision to build an architect-designed contemporary extension to the red-brick solid structure.

“I reckon it’s the best block in Yeronga as far as views go,” she says. “(We love) the elevated view and the cul-de-sac … the privacy and the space.”

“(We made plans to rebuild) off and on until last year. We stopped and started a few times, we renovated our [other] house and just, life. We would be really gung ho, then lose interest, then gung ho again.”

Susie O’Neill grew up in the public eye as a master of butterfly, known for her gifted style and strong work ethic in the pool.

She won eight Olympic medals across the 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney games and also achieved 35 Australian swimming titles.

Now working as a Nova 106.9 breakfast radio host, as well as a Queensland Olympic Council member and Fred Hollows Foundation ambassador, and a busy mother of two sporting children, she and her family have decided reluctantly to sell their Yeronga property.

“I always get such mixed feelings when I come out here,” she says. “I go, ‘Why are we selling it?’. It’s just something we couldn’t get going and then time passed.”

O’Neill and her ophthalmologist husband Cliff Fairley never lived in the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home they bought almost a decade ago for $2.6 million, instead choosing to remain in their more modern house on the river nearby.

Relatives lived in the property and loved the serene setting and the wide-open greenery that were perfect for entertaining.

It has a Great Gastby-esque potential for grand garden parties, looking out to the Indooroopilly Golf Course.

The family wanted to maintain the home’s structure and engaged prominent Queensland architects Vokes and Peters to come up with a concept to renovate it into a contemporary family dwelling.

The plan proposed keeping the main structure of the original home, which is complete with a kitchen straight out of the pages of a retro Women’s Weekly and a bathroom with pink enamel bath and sink and pentagonal patterned tiles.

Pressed metal decorative ceilings in the living room and panels above the kitchen windows complete the look.

Under the plan from the award-winning architects, the home was to be transformed with the bedrooms at the rear of the home and a river-facing lounge and entertaining area on the main floor.

A top level would have been the master suite with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite. Adjoining the original home was a contemporary “pod” that would also flow to down another level, but still remain high above the 2011 flood level. A pool would complete the family dwelling.

Riverfront Yeronga has notched up three $3m-plus residential sales this year. It is an established suburb with large block sizes less than 5km south of Brisbane’s central business district.

The property goes to auction on Tuesday and is offered for sale through Ray White New Farm’s Christine Rudolph.

Rudolph says it is rare to find a property with such generous land size, and which is also well above the flood line. It also adjoins a council reserve, adding to the sense of space.

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