SGRE: Where It All Began- Part 2

By January 30, 2018Uncategorized

Welcome To Woollhara 


Our office opened in Woollahra on April 1, 1995- but this was no April Fool’s joke.
Our initial premises were located on the corner of Queen and Moncur Street, a serviced office about 3m x 4m in size. It was just me (Sally) working there, so I didn’t need a lot of space.
Financially, I ran operations on what you might call ‘fumes’. I had a computer, a second hand desk and 17 properties under management that came from a mix of some very loyal former clients and family friends.
I joined every local business networking group in the area and spread the word about what I was up to. Despite tough times starting the new venture, I was enjoying myself and with this enthusiastic approach came new business. The first sales listing came just 2 weeks after opening. It sold at auction 4 weeks later, a two-bedroom unit on Campbell Parade in Bondi for $281,000.  In today’s market, I estimate that it would sell for around $2,200,000.00!
By December, I was managing 60 properties and had expanded to hiring a trainee to assist with the daily office housekeeping.


At the start of 1996, notice was given on the serviced office I rented. The building was to be re-developed, so I had to find new premises. I relocated to a shopfront on Hargrave Street, Paddington, where I employed 2 full time staff.
In February of 1997, Peter and I got married – and what an awesome year it turned out to be! Married life, a new home, a growing business and we got our first dog- a rescue by the name of “Dumpee”. I didn’t think life could get any better, and then we had our son in October 1998, followed by a daughter in 2001. Juggling business and family life was hard. We made it work, but there were some tough times. To this day there still are, as you can expect!
By my own admission I’m a great real estate agent and a specialist in Property Management- but a pretty hopeless businesswoman. As a result, Peter joined the company just after our daughter was born to assist with business management and to run the sales department. In mid-2001, we changed our trading name from Sally-A. Shields Real Estate to Shields Gillman Real Estate.
By 2002 we’d outgrown our two bedroom Kingsford semi, so we went in search of somewhere else to live…
I had a cousin who I’m close to, he’d recently married and bought his first home. When I told my Grandmother we were looking to move, she told me enthusiastically that “Tim bought in Forestville”.
“Sounds good to me”, I thought. So Peter and I ventured to the north in search of a home that might suit our young family as well.
We discovered (in the early 2000’s), that the Forest area was well under-valued in comparison with the rest of Sydney. Sale by auction was unheard of, and the price of a home was whatever the local agent decided to sell it for. This meant that there was very limited growth in the marketplace. It was great for buyers but a tragedy for property owners.
We found a home on Brown Street, Forestville, made an offer and had exchanged contracts for sale within the week. I couldn’t wait to tell my cousin Tim that we’d be neighbours! We caught up and I told him the good news.  But he looked very puzzled:
“We didn’t buy in Forestville”, he told me, “we bought in Ashfield…”
My Nan had confused where Tim’s wife worked, with where they had bought!
Nevertheless, we went from a 2 bedroom semi on 330 square metres of land (considered a large block in Kingsford) to a block of almost 900 square metres- our entire Kingsford home would fit into the combined lounge/dining/kitchen area. We couldn’t believe it- and that didn’t even turn out to be the best part. We discovered that the best thing about the Forest area is the people – they’re kind, generous and genuine. I’m happy to say that moving to Forestville was the best decision I’ve made in my life. I’ve been fortunate to make the very best of friendships, and there’s a genuine spirit of community everywhere.

Reasons To Relocate

But as soon as we moved into the area, I became very restless…
Every day I’d make the trek home from working in the Eastern Suburbs, reach the Roseville Bridge, open my car window and take a long, deep breath. The smell of eucalyptus is everywhere and the buzz of cicadas in the Summer welcomed me home, no matter what type of day I was coming home from.
The travel from home to work and back again only lasted 35 minutes, but the pull to work closer to where we lived was growing. It took us twelve long years but finally, in 2014 we made the decision to relocate our business to the Forest.
Our reputation as successful, trustworthy and reliable agents in the East was hard fought and continues to this day. Our preference, however, is to be exclusively local agents for the Forest area. As far as we’re concerned, this is God’s Country and we’re all blessed to live in such a wonderful place. We want to share the love!
We also wanted to see Forest area residents capitalise on the Sydney market boom (as they should) so we unashamedly market the properties we sell.
Now, I can’t finish this tale without mentioning our Smooth Coat Border Collie “Scout” the office dog, who many of you may know or would’ve seen. Dogs have always been a very important part of my adult life and I can’t imagine our home without one.
Our first girl Dumpee, a Cattle X Border Collie, sadly passed away in October 2001. Afterwards we got Coco, a Cattle- X, who came to be known as the “Brown Dog of Brown Street”. Coco was one of the original rescue dogs from Monikas Doggie Rescue and we had her for 15 years until old age caught up with her in 2016.
Scout walks with me to work on most days, attends Forest rugby games passionately on Saturday afternoons in the Winter, and can be found most afternoons up at Lionel Watts Showground in Belrose, rounding up the many balls she can find. If you see us out and about, don’t be a stranger- come over and say hi!

Sally Gillman

Author Sally Gillman

More posts by Sally Gillman

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Leila & John Comerford says:

    What an interesting story.So glad you are our managging agent even though it involves the Lane Cove area.

Leave a Reply