A neighbourhood stoush over access to a ramshackle boatshed once enjoyed by media identity Eddie McGuire will now be decided by a judge.
The warring neighbours, who live in a spot known as ‘Millionaire’s Walk’, have taken their spat to the County Court of Victoria in a costly civil trial that ended last week.
The blink-and-you’ll-miss it boat shed is positioned at the foot of cliffs in Portsea at the bottom of Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay.
It is the suburb of some of Australia’s wealthiest people, with transport tycoon Lindsay Fox’s palatial mansion positioned a stone’s throw from the feuding neighbours.
A boat shed has caused a neighbourhood spat in one of Australia’s wealthiest suburbs
The boat shed is accessed by stairs leading up the cliff
Eddie McGuire leased the property for a reported $100,000 a year in 2009
The Millionaire Hot Seat host was linked to the Somerset Avenue property in 2009, when he was reported to have taken out a long-term lease on the then $10million property for about $100,000 a year.
The holiday home, set on manicured lawns and gardens with a walkway to the secluded beach, was believed to have been leased to the McGuire family for at least five years.
Documents and photographs released to Daily Mail Australia show the boat shed nestled between shrubs just off iconic Shelley Beach.
Stairs leading to the boat shed are also in hot dispute as is a boat ramp and an old bore well.
In a writ filed with the court, Ann Hyams claims the shed and everything else attached to it has been exclusively used by her family, their tenants and invitees.
Ms Hyams is at war with Helen Blythe – the widow of one-time rich lister Brian Blythe, who was the boss and then chair of cleaning-and-catering business Spotless Group.
Ms Blythe and her now deceased husband were the former owners of what is now transport and real estate billionaire’s Paul Little’s historic Coonac on Clendon Road home in Toorak, one of the most expansive properties in the exclusive suburb.
She is also the mother of Laura McLachlan – the wife of AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and wife Laura McLachlan, who is the daughter of Helen Blythe
The home attached to the controversial boatshed had originally been built by Walter Waldemar Pisterman, who died in 1989 leaving the property to Ms Hyams.
The writ states Ms Hyams is entitled to the boatshed through an ‘Adverse Possession Claim’, which is a property law principle that allows a person to claim ownership of land without paying for it after 15 years of exclusive use of it.
Ms Hyams claims Mr Pisterman constructed the shed around 1958, using it for the storage of beach equipment, swimming accessories, boat accessories, watercraft and for recreational purposes when attending Shelley Beach.
‘The boat shed was the primary access point to beach from the Plaintiffs’ title land noting that there was no direct access to the beach other than through the boat shed via the cliff stairs from the plaintiffs’ title land,’ the writ states.
‘The boat shed can only be accessed via an enclosed stairway that connects the plaintiffs’ title land or from a locked door at the beach end.
‘The Estate and Walter prior to his death have controlled the keys and access to the Boat Shed and only provided keys and access to their tenants and invitees.’
Lindsay Fox lives just down the road from the warring neighbours
Portsea contains some of Australia’s most expensive homes
Ms Hyams claimed Mr Pisterman and then his estate has exercised ‘exclusive occupation and control of the boat shed since its construction in around 1958’.
She claims the original owner of the disputed land made an agreement with Mr Pisterman giving him permission to construct and use the boat shed on his land in exchange for a nominal yearly fee and permission to share the use of the bore water pump.
Tension over the boat shed’s ownership boiled over in 2021, when Ms Hyams claims her people acting for Ms Blythe had locks installed on its door.
Ms Blythe had bought the property in 1997, applying for a new title in 2019 that she claims scrapped the previous boat shed agreement.
In a defence filed with the court, Ms Blythe claimed her family had paid rates and land tax for the disputed land since its purchase and the land has always been theirs.
The matter will be decided at a date to be fixed.