By Joyce Chen
It may come as no surprise to fans of Cate Blanchett’s fierce red carpet fashion that her real estate portfolio is just as stylish. The Australian-born actor is best known for her roles in films as wide-ranging as Elizabeth, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Lord of the Rings, Nightmare Alley, and, most recently, Tár, but before she found fame in Hollywood, Blanchett had built herself quite the following on the Sydney theater scene. She studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) there and is married to acclaimed Australian playwright Andrew Upton.
The pair invested in multiple properties in their home country of Australia after a 10-year stint in Brighton, UK, in the ’90s. In more recent years, they’ve also expanded their holdings across the pond. “Our spirit is jump in, then just keep going until you can make the thing work or not,” Blanchett once told The New Yorker. “If it’s not making sense, you pull it apart and try to put it back together again.” Here, we’re offering a glimpse into the couple’s enviable properties, from their first beachside apartment to their current English manor home.
Blanchett and Upton got to know each other in 1996, while working on the set of one of her lesser-known Australian movies, Thank God He Met Lizzie. Upton told The New Yorker that they were both “taken by surprise” by the relationship that bloomed from their friendship, and that “three weeks into our relationship, Cate says she thought, Oh god, he’s gonna ask me to marry him.” (He did, and the pair wed in late 1997.) At the time, Blanchett was living in her first apartment, a humble one-bedroom beachside pad in Coogee, Sydney, which she sold five years later.
The newlyweds then bought a slightly larger two-bedroom apartment, also in Coogee, which they ultimately sold in 2011.
Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton in 1999.
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Blanchett and Upton then moved to Brighton, UK, where they enjoyed a quiet life in a four-story Georgian home on the seafront for nearly a decade. Though few details are known about the couple’s dwelling there, Blanchett has spoken often about her fondness for the city. “I miss Brighton enormously,” she previously told Culture Calling. “There is so much I miss, including the rain. I miss the verdant countryside.” Their house reportedly featured a marble bathtub that had to be lifted in by a crane. The family moved back to Sydney in 2006—at that time, the couple had welcomed sons Dashiell and Roman into the mix. (In subsequent years, they would add another son, Ignatius, and daughter Edith Vivian.)
The facade of Bulwarra in Hunters Hill.
Once back in Sydney, Blanchett and Upton purchased a circa-1877 Gothic-style mansion in Hunters Hill for roughly $6.5 million. The couple wasted no time renovating the original sandstone manor house, and spent a total of three years reimagining the riverside spread into an environmentally friendly home with the help of architect Steven Lesiuk and architect-interior designer Nadine Alwill. The result was a five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom dwelling with a heated pool and spa, a tennis court, a trampoline platform, and a separate guesthouse. Blanchett once called the estate, known as Bulwarra, her “oasis,” noting that the place has “a feeling of being completely in the bush.” The couple listed the renovated masterpiece for $14.73 million in 2015 and ultimately sold it in 2017.
Despite already living in a self-proclaimed oasis in sleepy Hunters Hill, Blanchett and Upton next purchased a luxury island retreat in the Republic of Vanuatu (located between Fiji and Australia), called Matanara. The beach house is located on the island of Efate and is situated far back from the road and hidden behind palm trees, with a private strip of beach overlooking Undine Bay. The mansion consists of two pavilion-style buildings linked by a large timber deck. There are a total of four bedrooms and two bathrooms, with glass walls that slide completely open for optimal indoor-outdoor flow. The couple put the property up for sale in 2019, with a listing price of $1.4 million, and it’s unclear whether or not the home has found a buyer.
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A few years later, the pair snapped up a three-story holiday home near Berowra Creek, a watercourse that is part of the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment in Sydney, for around $1 million. The five-bedroom dwelling overlooking the Hawkesbury River could only be reached via boat, further adding to its appeal for the private couple and their family, and was outfitted in a modern coastal style, with clean lines and wooden decks. Images from the inside of the home reveal bright white interiors and plenty of natural light; there is even a detached bunkhouse for guests. The couple ultimately sold the pad for a very small profit in 2019.
That same year, they spent around $1.3 million on a waterfront apartment in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, reportedly a generous investment for their children, which they still own.
After putting their Hunters Hill estate on the market, Blanchett and Upton downsized to a roughly $5.2 million five-bedroom apartment located in the historic Astor building in the heart of Sydney. With views of the Sydney Harbor, the Opera House, and the Royal Botanic Garden, the property was already impressive for its location; beyond that, it was also the largest apartment of the landmark 1923 building and featured an eye-catching staircase connecting two sprawling floors. Photos of the interior reveal oversized windows, a cavernous formal dining area, and modern light fixtures. The couple listed the apartment for around $8 million in early 2020 and sold it that fall for an undisclosed amount.
The following year, the pair picked up a $4.5 million English manor home on 13 acres in East Sussex known as Highwell House. The Victorian mansion, built in 1890, previously belonged to Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and present-day celebrities like Kate Winslet and musician Bryan Ferry are among the couple’s well-heeled neighbors. The main house features seven bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, and two half bathrooms, as well as five reception rooms. There are also about a dozen antique fireplaces, a games room, and even a 40-foot drawing room outfitted with crystal chandeliers. The couple and their four children currently call this property their primary home.
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