AS I walk through the front door, I can’t help but detect a certain swagger in my step.
So, this is what it’s like to feel a million bucks.
I’ve been given the keys to one of Brisbane’s most iconic, riverfront mansions for the weekend — and I plan to make the most of it.
What first hits me as I enter the home is the sheer size of the place.
I have to crane my neck to look at the soaring ceilings decorated with intricate roses and a huge French chandelier.
To my right is the grandest ‘Gone with the Wind’-style staircase I’ve ever seen and there is nothing but marble beneath my feet.
This is my home for the next two days — 50 Dauphin Terrace, Highgate Hill — a three-storey, seven-bedroom, four-bathroom Victorian-style mansion perched high on a hill overlooking the Brisbane River.
Surrounded by its own private rainforest, with not a neighbour in sight, the house sits on nearly 4000 sqm of absolute riverfront land, only 2km from the CBD.
This site was once the home of General Douglas McArthur, who was a highly decorate soldier of both world wars, during the Pacific Campaign in World War 2.
But believe it or not, the house is only two decades old — despite its period features and the fact it looks like it’s straight out of the Great Gatsby era.
“It’s the kind of house Walt Disney would have built if you asked him to build a Queenslander,” owner Dr Chris Bradshaw tells me.
“It’s like living in a luxury resort every day.”
The history of the site weighs on me as I contemplate what to do with my time.
I don’t even know where to start, so I turn right and find myself in a ballroom-sized, formal lounge and dining room, complete with a grand piano, marble fireplace, antique furniture and drapes I’m told are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I suddenly feel very underdressed. But the view is beckoning, so out to the timber decks I go to take in the cool breeze and stunning vista.
The University of Queensland is directly in front of me and to my right and left, the winding river stretches as far as the eye can see.
I sit here for a while, captivated by this scene and inspecting the ornate, powder-coated aluminium lattice that adorns the veranda balustrades.
It strikes me that although I am only minutes from the city centre, there is nothing but peace and quiet.
I could definitely get used to this. Is it too early to open the bottle of bubbles I’ve brought with me?
It’s not yet midday, so I refrain and instead make my way to the other side of the house where there is a much more ‘lived in’ living, dining and kitchen area.
It’s clear this is where the owners spend most of their time.
The circular, granite kitchen is practical and neat, with a huge island bench and plenty of storage.
I warm myself by another fireplace in this large, open-plan area with its polished, hardwood floors (made of timber from the old Brett’s Wharf no less) — all while admiring a glass atrium framing the rainforest outside.
It is through this wall that I spot what the owners call ‘the treehouse’ — a separate, self-contained guesthouse spanning two levels joined to the main house by a large deck.
A quick look inside takes me back to childhood, playing in a cubby house in the trees; except my cubby house didn’t have its own kitchen, bathroom, balcony and bedroom.
Back in the main house, I climb the magnificent staircase to discover four bedrooms, including the master suite, which happens to be mine for the next 48 hours.
It also happens to be almost as big as my entire house.
Padding my way through the bedroom on plush carpet, I make way into the luxurious marble ensuite where a giant spa bath awaits.
I should mention I had buyer’s remorse for about six months after we bought our humble worker’s cottage and compromised on the one thing I now miss daily — a bath tub.
So, perhaps not surprisingly, I was in that tub in no time.
An hour or so later, it was time to pop that bubbly and watch the sky change colour as dusk turned to dark.
What better way to do that than from my very own observatory tower?
That’s right, a few steps outside the master suite lead me to an actual, five-storey tower, with a spiral staircase leading to the highest point of the house, from which the domed roof opens up to reveal the night sky and a view that would make even the most avid stargazer jealous.
It’s impossible not to feel like a princess up here — or perhaps, Rapunzel. Let your imagination run wild …
When I wake up the next morning, I’m in an unbelievably comfy bed; refreshed and ready to explore some more.
Downstairs, I discover a completely separate apartment with a brand new kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, a laundry and a 2000-bottle, temperature-controlled wine cellar.
Now I know the owners weren’t joking when they said they needed to call each other on their mobiles to find out where they were because the house was so big!
The apartment opens out to a large timber deck and a 23m gas-heated swimming pool, overlooking the river.
I’m tempted to take a dip, but it’s such a nice day, why not take the boat out?
Skipping down the paved, winding paths, through manicured gardens, I find myself at the boat house, which is kitted out with kayaks.
A private pontoon is below me, next to a remote-controlled boat lift (the only one of its kind on the Brisbane River the Bradshaws tell me).
Looking above from this viewpoint, the house is truly breathtaking.
The Bradshaws are waiting for me on the boat, so off we go.
Brisbane really is at its best when seen from the river.
As we glide along, we pass the homes of many of the city’s highest profile residents.
Among them, former Olympic swimmer Susie O’Neill’s riverfront home and developer Mark Stockwell’s palatial residence.
So, this is how the other half live.
Before I know it, we’re back at ‘Nareke’, and alas, my time here is up.
I write about a lot of dream homes, but to actually live the dream for a weekend is something else.
With the banking royal commission and uncertainty around the federal election outcome behind us, Brisbane’s prestige property market is in a sweet spot.
Agents say buyers have a renewed sense of urgency to act now, but top quality properties are few and far between.
50 Dauphin Terrace is one of those properties.
As I walk away from the house, along the paved winding path flanked by manicured gardens, I realise this truly is one of Brisbane’s best kept secrets.
Driving out of the regal gates in my humble Honda hatchback — in desperate need of a wash — reality hits and I realise the fairytale is abruptly over.
‘Nareke’ at 50 Dauphin Tce, Highgate Hill, is for sale by negotiation through Christine Rudolph and Matt Lancashire of Ray White – New Farm.