Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nobbys and Newcastle’s Coal River Precinct: Birthplace of a City

Nobbys (Whybaygamba), which was cutdown to half its height to form a base for the Nobbys lighthouse, and the convict built breakwater connecting Colliers Point, are distinctive Newcastle landmarks and unique colonial artefacts within the Coal River Precinct at the entrance to the Hunter River.

The integrity of the Nobbys Lighthouse must be preserved protected and promoted in a professional plan of management for the whole Coal River Precinct (SHR 1674)

The precinct is a nationally significant landscape and the birth site of Newcastle and of convict coal mining.

Recognition, protection and public access urgently needed.

Letter below to Premier of NSW re Nobbys Lighthouse decision and Coal River:

Friday, 30 May 2008

The Hon Morris Iemma MP
Premier of NSW and Minister for Citizenship
Governor Macquarie Tower
Level 40, No. 1 Farrer Place, SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Premier,

Nobbys and Newcastle’s Coal River Precinct: Birthplace of a City

Parks and Playgrounds Movement is pleased to report the decision of the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, the Hon Peter Garrett AM MP, to reject the development that would have adversely affected Newcastle’s unique Nobbys Lighthouse.

I feel sure you would agree that we must all take care that the historic Nobbys Lighthouse continues to stand proud and free as shown in the historic photograph below in any future adaptive reuse of the signalman’s cottages.

1902 view of Nobbys Lighthouse Newcastle: NSW State Library

We had been perturbed by the shelf company, Nobbys Lighthouse Pty Ltd, proposing to alienate the lighthouse in breach of commonwealth legislation and that the private Development Application was incorrectly assessed as a Crown Development.

Nobbys and Nobbys Lighthouse are the cultural symbols of Newcastle and should not have been dealt with in this way. The Lighthouse is an important aid to navigation and is the successor to the first light on the Australian coast, which was a beacon fuelled by coal mined by convict coalminers at Colliers Point beneath what is now Fort Scratchley. The lighthouse is of particular significance to Newcastle and is seen in the old and the new city Coat of Arms and in the Newcastle City Hall clock tower which is a representation of the ancient Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement have a continuing interest in this notable place dating from 1969 when we first proposed the statutory recognition of the area as a historic site. The proposal including Nobbys, the convict breakwater and the convict coal mines, Fort Scratchley and Shortland’s camp location. In 1999 we prepared a Prospectus for the Coal River Historic Site and a ten point plan for the Newcastle Lord Mayor, John Tate, to take to Canberra but were disappointed when the funding gained was not used to prepare the Masterplan as envisaged.

The lighthouse controversy and the intervention of the Commonwealth Minister has saved Nobbys lighthouse and given the Coal River Precinct the national focus it deserves and has highlighted the need for a guiding overall conservation plan.

We appeal to your Government to look with new clarity at Newcastle’s Coal River Precinct which is the birth place of our city and has made an immense contribution to the history and heritage of Australia. Furthermore we particularly ask that your Government favourably endorse the Department of Planning and the Newcastle City Council’s draft Conservation and Cultural Tourism Management Plan for the precinct.

We trust also that the redevelopment of the Port Corporation’s valuable waterfront land around the Pilot Station and Cornish Dock area will be coordinated and professionally managed as an integral part of the whole precinct and that public access be made to the Nobbys headland without further delay.

Yours Sincerely,

Doug Lithgow,
Freeman of the City of Newcastle
President Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc.

No comments: