WORDS: BETSIE LOOCK-VAN DER MERWE IMAGES: RENE WALKER

Property in the quaint little village of Irene has always been sought-after. In recent decades the demand for housing in this serene, well-located and scenic part of Centurion soared even higher. Developers jumped in and several impressive estate developments, independent schools and modern shopping centres have since seen the light in Irene.

Today Irene comprises the older central part (now gated) and many affluent estates like Irene Farm Villages, Cornwall Hill Estate, Southdowns Irene Country Farm Estate, Irene Glen Private Estate, and Irene View Estate. These are nestled alongside the R21 to OR Tambo International Airport and Ekurhuleni while the N1 highway between Pretoria and Joburg is accessible within a few minutes’ drive.

Even though much of the countryside ambiance and peace and quiet had been preserved and there still is a working dairy farm in the middle of the neighbourhood, residents also have the advantage of being close to top amenities such as comprehensive shopping malls, top schools, hospitals, several churches and every modern amenity one can think of.

Property

The real estate market in Irene caters to residents on the higher end of the market. Property does not come cheap, but one gets a lot for you money, as well as fresh air.

The older, central part of Irene offers lovely family homes on large wooded stands under charming tall trees. This is also where one could get away with a slightly more economical buy. Young first-time buyers and individuals who want to live in the area, can have a look at the Hereford apartment block development across the road from Irene Farm Villages.

A few of the newer developments also offer stylish modern apartment and townhouse living for established buyers. Prestigious affluent estates like Cornwall Hill and Southdowns are high-income security estates and property prices can reach many millions. Vacant stands are often available in the area and commercial and industrial property is currently readily on the market.

Schools

Being established during the Anglo Boer War to serve children who were detained at the Irene Concentration Camp, Irene Primary School boasts a fascinating historical background. The school has since its modest beginnings in 1901 grown into a highly esteemed public school.

Along the same lines, Irene Middle School, which opened its doors in 1913 to provide education to children of farmworkers in the area, is still functional as a public primary school for learners from a much bigger demographic area. Many children residing in Irene, attend Laerskool Doringkloof Primary, a public, dual-medium school in the neighbouring suburb of Doringkloof.

In recent years the sought-after Cornwall Hill College, an independent school catering to learners from Grade 000 up to Grade 12, was established next to Cornwall Hill Estate in Irene. Likewise, the prestigious Southdowns College opened its doors next to Southdowns Farm Estate. This independent school also caters to learners from the prepreparatory phase up to Grade 12.
Parents can also opt to enroll their high school children at Hoërskool Centurion or Lyttelton Manor High School. Both these are public schools of good standing.

Explore

Irene and surrounds have a myriad interesting places to be explored and enjoyed. Rietvlei Dam Nature Reserve offers a relaxing escape into nature less than 5km from Irene Village Mall. Rietvlei Coffee Shop is accommodated in an old farmstead in the reserve with lots of character and stories to tell.

The nearby Willow Feather Farm Garden Centre is just as lovely a venue to visit with the kids. They’ll love getting acquainted with animals like sheep, potbelly pigs, ponies, turkeys, rabbits and feathered friends like chickens, ducks and geese. The tea garden serves delicious eats and treats while picnic baskets can be ordered and enjoyed in the picturesque gardens.

Ouma Isie’s Tea Garden is set in a tranquil forest under shady trees at the Jan Smuts House Museum in Irene. The tea garden is famous for cooking up lip-smacking traditional boerekos dishes. The venue boasts some old forest trails and live entertainment events are also presented.

Another entertainment venue hosting regular music performances is Railways Café. The old station building in the village was transformed into a restaurant cum bar with a magical bohemian feel, where guests will feel comfortable to kick o their shoes and enjoy the moment.

And the Irene Village Market is a must-visit. It’s held at The Big Red Barn every first and last Saturday of the month.

My parents lived here, I live here, and my children plan to stay in the neighbourhood where they grew up – we got used to the open landscape and birds singing. It’s quite a safe area and conveniently located close to the highways. BETTINA ALBRIGHT, RESIDENT

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