Agents and their spaces: Samuel McNeilage

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Every morning, Samuel McNeilage plunges into the ocean at Flinders to swim in often freezing waters. Every morning. Without a wetsuit. As a member of Flinders Icebergers or ‘Fibbers’ as they call themselves, the daily ritual of cold-water immersion and warm camaraderie has had a profound and positive impact on Samuel’s health and wellbeing.

10 January 2023

“I’m not that good a swimmer - actually, I swim like a brick, and I’m scared of sharks, but once I’m out there with the other Fibbers, I feel calm and confident. The sense of achievement I feel after each swim outweighs everything else!”

Samuel is a relatively new addition to the Fibbers, who meet at their iconic beach box down by Flinders Pier each morning.

“It’s actually been life-changing for me. I’ve been doing it all through winter, and it’s definitely addictive – the best way to start the day, and with a great group of people, too.” Samuel explains.

Joining the Fibbers is not the only big life change that Samuel has experienced recently. Taking another huge plunge, and joining Marshall White as Director of the new Flinders office alongside high profile fellow Directors – Marshall White Group Sales Director, John ‘Jack’ Bongiorno, and former top jockey Stephen Baster – has also been transformational for the Mornington Peninsula specialist agent.

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It goes without saying that Samuel is a person who gives 100 per cent to every undertaking, and once he’s committed to something he sticks at it.

He moved from the city to the idyllic ‘coast meets country’ town of Flinders several years ago.

“I came down to visit my grandparents one day who had recently moved here, and just loved it. I basically decided then and there that I wanted to live here.”

So, Samuel, who had been working in the construction industry in Melbourne, put down his tools, and donned an apron, taking a job as a barista at the Flinders General Store.

Before long, Samuel, who has a naturally friendly and outgoing personality, got to know many of the locals.

“I basically launched myself into the community,” said Samuel, a keen golfer who joined the Flinders Golf Club ‘straight away’.

The barista job soon led to further hospitality work, and his ability to connect and engage with people at every level didn’t go unnoticed by the local real estate fraternity, in one of the state’s most exclusive and lucrative markets.

He was invited to join an established local agency, and before long, Samuel knew he had found his place. Things were going swimmingly for a few years, as he learnt the ropes and succeeded in the blue-chip Flinders market, but Samuel felt he was looking for a change.

Now, as Director of Marshall White Flinders, and firmly entrenched in the Flinders Community, Samuel couldn’t be happier with his life.

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“I am 100 percent career focused and dedicated to this community,” he declares.

Samuel is thrilled to have opened the doors on the new Marshall White Flinders office and to be working alongside Stephen and Jack. “Stephen  is like a brother to me. I felt a phenomenal connection to him immediately. It’s an honour to be working with him. He has so many connections with his background in horse racing which is obviously a very important industry down here. And I have so much respect for Jack. It’s a tremendous opportunity. We really have an amazing ‘brains trust’. It’s really exciting.”

Fresh from his morning swim, and fuelled by a coffee from the local café, Samuel has found his ‘home’ in the small township.

“I love living and working here, and getting out and about in the community.”

“We opened Marshall White Flinders because our clients were asking for our help on the Mornington Peninsula. Even though the lifestyle is a bit more laid back, when it comes to real estate, you need to be fully focussed and professional. Some agencies open offices down here for their agents to retire and slow down, but that’s not what we are doing. We understand the importance of the market here, and we want to help drive it further. Our clients want a high impact professional service that they associate with in Melbourne.”

In contrast to the Melbourne market, which typically slows down towards the year's end, the Mornington Peninsula, known for its population swell each summer, consistently prepares for heightened activity.

“We expect our peak market from around late January to early March. Everyone starts to arrive for their annual visits, and while ‘on holidays’, they are looking at the real estate market.”

That’s why the beautifully styled ‘Hamptons/Coastal themed’ Marshall White Flinders office has been designed with a full suite of window display photography on two walls of the prominent corner property.

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“Most of the city-based Marshall White offices don’t have window displays, but the market is different here. People will be looking at the windows in the evenings, while they’re waiting to pick up their dinner, or going for an evening stroll. This is the time when things really start moving.”

Samuel is an enthusiastic advocate for the amazing lifestyle benefits of living in or around Flinders, no matter what the season. His current list of favourite local restaurants and wineries include Moke, Plonk & Stink, Ten Minutes by Tractor and Point Leo Estate.

Meanwhile, the early morning swims sustain him for the busy workload. “Swimming clears my head and prepares me for the day,” he said.

“At the moment, there’s about 15 of us that swim each day, but in summer it can increase to about 30. Old, young, men, women - everyone gets in. We even have a hot shower in the shed for post-swim warm-ups, which is fantastic!”

Samuel, whose family background is Scottish and Irish, loves the ‘birthday tradition’ of the Fibbers.

“When it’s your birthday, you have to bring along a bottle of whisky, and after the swim, everyone gets a ‘wee dram’. That certainly helps warm you up and puts a pep in your step for the rest of the day!”.

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