INXS Manager Chris Murphy Plans for a Rock'n'Roll Heaven


Former INXS band manager Chris Murphy has big plans for a new property venture, a retirement village in Ballina the musical maverick and business hard-man likes to call Rock'n'Roll heaven.

And the village “tagline” he says: “Rock ’til you drop,” Murphy tells The Urban Developer.

The 36-hectare development site of council land, referred to as the Southern Cross Expansion Precinct (“SCEP”), sits near Ballina airport in the coastal town of northern New South Wales, about 35-kilometres south of Byron Bay, an hour or so from the Gold Coast and two hours from Queensland capital Brisbane.

Currently the land parcel only has rural zoning, so any talk of an official development application for his zealous idea, is a long way off.

But Murphy — arguably known as the guy who pushed open the US doors for Australian music in the 1980s, transforming INXS from an unknown pub band to one of the world’s biggest rock groups — is not short on passion, big talking or even bigger ideas for the Ballina development project.

Part of Murphy's plans for the precinct involve the development of an INXS museum in Ballina.
▲ Part of Murphy's plans for the 36-hectare precinct involve the development of an INXS museum in Ballina.

“People in retirement villages, as we speak, they’re the people who built this bloody country. The tradesmen, all sorts of people who lived through an era where you had to really work,” he told The Urban Developer.

“You didn't sit on a laptop and send emails all day.”

Ballina Shire Council's Manager Airport and Commercial Services Paul Tsikleas says plans are in place to have a masterplan finalised within the next six months for the site, and rezoning complete within 12 months.

But that “no decisions on development would be made until the masterplanning and rezoning processes have been completed”.

The case to ‘rock’

“You know, in the music and media business,” Murphy, who’s now in his mid-sixties, said.

“There’s a lot of people who are getting older. And, what are these people going to do?

“They've been working in a very creative industry all of their lives; what are you going to do now that you don't have a job? Sit in a quiet retirement village with people you don't know or share common interests?”

INXS Manager Chris Murphy’s Plans for ‘Rock’n’Roll Heaven Retirement Village in Ballina
▲ The 36-hectare council site sits at the north-western edge of the township of Ballina, opposite Ballina airport.

To date Murphy has presented a plan to Mayor David Wright and Ballina Shire Council.

But first, the business end. Local council will have to complete its masterplan and rezoning process, while installing infrastructure could cost anywhere north of $15 and $20 million.

But if we're going to go big, Murphy's plans for the innovation precinct would see it become Ballina's 'new sensation'.

With the precinct also including commercial office space, a “creative hub” for filmmakers, musicians, entrepreneurs and co., as well as his long-time dream of an INXS museum filled with memorabilia he's collected since the 1970s.

It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Plans for the X-Building
▲ Murphy's plans for the X-Building

In February this year, state government pegged $3.95 million towards transforming the council-owned site into an "innovation and enterprise precinct".

There was also lots of talk in support of plans for what could be the future home of an INXS Music Museum.

Murphy, who grew up in housing commission in the coastal town of Shellharbour, credits his Dad who worked two jobs as a truckie and a talent booking agent, as to how he got his own start in the music biz.

So the project idea is an opportunity to encourage employment levels and share with the younger generation.

“I want the X-building, and the precinct to be a doorway for local kids who live here,” Murphy said.

But for now, council says it will be engaging more with stakeholders once masterplanning for the Ballina site is complete.

Masterplanning of the precinct is expected to be completed by 2020.

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