Say Hello to…Philip Hart
He lives and loves Mooloolaba, however it is Philip Hart’s unwavering entrepreneurial spirit and insatiable thirst for business diversity that comes as a surprise. Helen Flanagan had a heart to Hart.
The world was undoubtedly Philip Hart’s oyster, when he established a catering and wine company aged just 19, then sold it, returning to his forte of finance. He later co-founded Australia’s largest independent financial services company, now the 5th largest.
Philip resigned from operational duties in 2010, looked at a spreadsheet for a dive business and bought it with younger son Daniel. His wife Susan subsequently suggested they should escape cold Melbourne and check out Sunreef, in this place called Mooloolaba.
After swimming in crystal-clear 22-degree Celsius water at 8.30am every day, they decided it was the best place ever – and the perfect place to develop hospitality, tourism, adventure and fitness enterprises.
Coinciding with a move to the Mooloolaba Wharf, which had been revamped with a serious injection of pizzazz, was the expansion of Sunreef, the largest dive centre in south-east Queensland offering local reef dives, snorkelling trips and diving on the ex-HMAS Brisbane. New additions included a first for Australia, the globally popular Swimming with Humpback Whales experience, whale watching on board Whale One, and dining at The Dock waterside restaurant.
Ten seconds from toes-in-the-sand, and high on Mooloolaba Esplanade with sweeping views of the Coral Sea from Noosa Heads to Point Cartwright and beyond, is the ‘home office’. From here, Phillip manages 150 people, buys businesses such as Melbourne’s oldest pub with elder son Jared, and waits very patiently for his membership to the Headland Golf Club to eventuate.
He is a typical Melburnian when it comes to good coffee, so he jumps on his pushie regularly and heads to The Wharf where he finds a ‘made with care’ blend.
“Businesses continue to accumulate,” explained Philip. “In Melbourne with two other restaurants, and here on the coast with the development of Hatted Chef ready-to-eat meals. And most recently it’s Ezyfit Gym with son Dan managing the operation with wife Katie. Both are certified personal trainers.
“It’s been enlightening as a member of Visit Sunshine Coast’s board to appreciate the Coast’s rich diversity. Especially at a time when it was voted the most favoured destination in the world, and totally credible given companies such as bookings.com and TripAdvisor were used.”
Phillip of course concurs with the survey, although he retains a soft spot for Melbourne, with its buoyant restaurant scene and four-seasons-in-a-day climate.
“We enjoy a Melbourne visit for a change of pace and scenery however love the idyllic sub-tropical climate here,” he said. “The beach, our coastal home with a head office to boot, also indulging in favourite pastimes such as dining out with myriad wonderful restaurant options, where you can savour fresh local produce, literally from paddock to plate and trawler to table.
“Mooloolaba affords us a great lifestyle and work relationship, but most importantly it is the closeness to family and friends, with our four-year-old granddaughter heading the list.
“Nothing beats lunch on the terrace or around the pool with them and Mooloolaba prawns, tuna, reef fish, steaks and drinks of choice taking centre stage. This truly is the good life.”