Your Town With Cass – San Remo VIC

In this month’s Your Town column Move To More blogger and Eugowra local, Cassie Gates, chats with nbn 2022 Innovate Awards Grand Champion, Harley Schinagl from TerraLab about his life in the Victorian south coastal town of San Remo, where he works and lives with his young family.

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What’s your San Remo story Harley?

I’m originally from nearby Venus Bay, and Michelle, my wife, is from Melbourne. When we moved here in 2015 our criteria was to be close to Melbourne for Michelle’s family and friends and on the coast with access to the ocean. San Remo is the last stop along the coast before Melbourne, so it is perfect!

What is life REALLY like in San Remo?

There are a lot of young families in San Remo as well as retirees, it’s a real mix. The population is growing and close to 2000 and it does get a lot of through traffic to Phillip Island during holiday times and events like the Motor GP. It has great beach access and there are bike paths everywhere. If you fancy a bush walk there are a few of those too. It’s very much an ‘outdoors’ community.

San Remo has a preschool; a primary school and a new High School was built only a couple of years ago. It has everything our family needs and we are close to Melbourne if we need it.

What sort of jobs available in San Remo?

Hospitality and Tourism are the major employers in San Remo. A lot of people do commute to Melbourne. My business, TerraLab is based here. We started TerraLab as a remote business with workers based all over the country.

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What do you do on the weekend for fun? It appears like fishing is huge in San Remo!

We don’t fish, but every second house has a boat in the driveway! It is one of the major drawcards here especially with the beach and the bay so close. Surfing is pretty popular too. With our kids being so young most weekends are spent keeping them entertained which is going to parks, bike riding, visiting the beach looking at the rockpools and having little adventures. Last weekend Michelle and I managed a weekend in Melbourne child-free! It’s so good for that, only one and half hours’ drive and you are in the centre of Melbourne.

What is the art & culture scene like?

There is a bit going on, at this point in our lives though it really isn’t something we get to be involved in unfortunately. There is an art gallery in San Remo and in Cowes the Council has just finished building a new cultural centre which will have theatre shows, community events and a cinema. It opens in November so we’re looking forward to that.

There are two big pubs in town. The Westernport Hotel has a great live music schedule, they get some big acts.

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Is there a sporting culture in San Remo?

AFL, soccer and cricket are pretty big down here especially the AFL. On Phillip Island it’s huge! There are a few board-riders clubs around and skateboard parks for the kids to use.

As San Remo has a plethora of freshly caught seafood are there some nice restaurants to eat at. Any recommendations?

Saltwater in Newhaven is one of my favourites. Mario’s seafood in San Remo is pretty good. The Fisherman’s Co-op is great for takeaway and for fresh fish, straight off the boats. There are plenty of cafés with the amount of tourists we get down here. Lots of different restaurants and little bars, it’s great!

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Is San Remo easy to get to if you don’t drive?

Melbourne is the closest airport, and we don’t have trains down here. You can get a bus to the outer suburbs of Melbourne and then switch to a train. Most people drive around here, and we know when there is something on at Phillip Island as it’s hard to get across the main road!

What is the housing situation like in the region?

Prices have spiked after Covid with people realising you can work from home and commute into Melbourne one or two days a week. There are two new estates coming along in San Remo and Cowes on Phillip Island also has some new development as well.

Can you get in to see a doctor? Where is the nearest hospital?

The nearest hospital is Wonthaggi hospital, a 15-minute drive down the road. But on Phillip Island in Cowes there is an acute care hospital which is where we would normally go. We have several doctor surgeries and like most places it can be tricky to get into see someone but having the two hospitals nearby we can always get in there to see someone.

Ok. Here’s your time to pitch! If you had to give someone one reason to move to the San Remo region, what would it be?

The ocean, the Bay, and the wildlife. Do life in reverse. Instead of living in the city and dipping down to the coast for the weekend, live here and enjoy the beautiful outdoors and duck into the city when you need to!

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