Scientologists opt out of drug rehab plans for Yarramalong

The Church of Scientology has abandoned its bid to run a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility at its Central Coast property in Yarramalong, instead listing it for sale with hopes of $4 million.

The property has been mired in controversy since 2013 when it was bought by an off-shoot of the church, the Association of Better Living and Education, as a facility from which to run its substance abuse treatment program Naconon.

It was previously owned by property developer Albert Bertini, who redeveloped it into a private fun park before he sold it for a Yarramalong record high of $3.8 million.

At the time the buyer's identity was shrouded in mystery with no inspections of the property and no valuations before exchange.

Revelations that it was bought by ABLE who proposed to run it as a drug rehab sparked fierce opposition from locals.

Wyong Shire Council (now Central Coast Council) eventually rejected the DA because it was incompatible with land zonings and regulations, and a subsequent appeal to the Land and Environment Court failed.

Narconon is based on the teachings of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard, and has come under criticism around the world for its non-medical practices, particularly the detoxification process involving five-hour-long sessions in a sauna and mega doses of niacin and other vitamins. It has been associated with deaths in Europe and the United States and is banned in Quebec.

The 15-hectare property was already renowned among locals as Bertini Estate, the private adventure playground created by Bertini after he bought the property in 2006 and at which he hosted extravagant parties and a who's who of guests at various times, including former premier Morris Iemma and businessman Peter Holmes a Court.

Among Bertini's more impressive additions were three separate guest houses near the main residence, a tennis court, a nine-hole golf course, polo field, a barn with a commercial kitchen and dining area for 50 seated guests, a dedicated hair salon, a nightclub with pole dancing, and two swimming pools with the Bertini crest tiled into the bottom, and a double waterslide.

One Bertini guest recalls a Christmas Party for more than 300 people in 2008 that was held over two days and included a Ferris wheel on the golf course, off-road buggy races and a "Santa" on a horse and cart who delivered toy bags to the boys and girls.

Bertini left Australia in 2011 with a string of creditors in his wake, and two years later married former teenage surf competitor Renee Hyman on his Fiji private resort Vatulele.

The fortunes of his former Yarramalong property haven't fared well since.

The pools have been empty for years, the outdoor timber decking has rotted, and the golf course and polo field need to be restored.

It is listed for $4 million with Ray Armstrong, of Central Coast Select Properties.

Leon Fink cops a loss

Restaurateur Leon Fink has sold his Potts Point garden apartment in The Grantham for $6.2 million, copping a $1 million loss in the process.

The sale of the whole-floor spread in the Alex Popov-designed building is believed to have been negotiated privately, with records showing the buyer is art collector Rebecca Sparks, rumoured to be the new girlfriend of former Babcock & Brown executive Rob Topfer.

Fink had bought the apartment in the bullish market of 2010 through Richardson & Wrench Elizabeth Bay's Jason Boon for $7.25 million.

Topfer, who now heads up investment and advisory firm Taemas, has already registered the apartment as his official address on corporate filings.

Earlier this year Sparks and a company wholly owned by Topfer settled on a $5.5 million Southern Highlands property, Virginia Park, for $5.5 million.

The 120 hectare property in Exeter features a striking residence designed by architect Caroline Pidcock that was commissioned by the former owners, authors Susan Varga and Anne Coombs.

This story Scientologists opt out of drug rehab plans for Yarramalong first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.