Monday, June 8, 2009

What should become of Nobbys Headhead?

We believe that the Nobbys Headland should be transferred to the National Parks Service for care control and management. They have an act of Parliament that charges them with the responsibility to manage areas for the public whilst protecting and promoting natural and cultural heritage values. This would require the state to bear costs rather than just the Newcastle Ratepayers. Nobbys is a nationally important site and even the Commonwealth could be asked to help. There are a number of other ways of doing things too eg .Cadman’s Cottage at Circular Quay in Sydney or Pinchgut Fort Denison both under the National Parks Act in Sydney Harbour.

Fort Denison - Sydney Harbour National Park

Fort Denison Photo Max Herford
Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour

Through the centuries Fort Denison went by many names. The Aboriginal people called the island Mat-te-wan-ye, Governor Phillip called it Rock Island, and later it became known as Pinchgut. When the fort was built the island gained its current name after the Governor William Denison.

Ever since the arrival of the first fleet in 1788, long before the fortification was completed in 1862, the island was used to imprison, punish, and execute criminals.

Today Fort Denison hosts a museum and Sydney's only island café, which caters for guests of the National Parks Discovery Tours as well as weddings and dinner parties.

Fort Denison is one of the Foundation’s for NP’s major cultural heritage projects. Through sponsorship from EnergyAustralia the Foundation helped fund the restoration of the buildings, the installation of the museum and the restaurant facilities. The project preserved this icon of European history and made it accessible for the public.

Cadman's Cottage at Circular Quay, Sydney

Cadman's Cottage Photo Max Herford

One of Sydney’s oldest buildings, Cadman’s Cottage was once the head office of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife and serves now as the Sydney Harbour National Park Information Centre.

It was built in 1816 as part of the Government Dockyard and served as a base for the supervision of Government boats. Cadman’s Cottage is named after the third and longest serving Government Coxswain (the master in charge of small vessels) John Cadman, who retired in 1845. Some time in the following three years Cadman’s Cottage became the office of the water police, and in 1849 it was gazetted as a Court of Petty Sessions.

In the following decades Cadman’s Cottage was used as a Police lock-up, office of the charitable Sailors’ Home Trust, a home for retired sea captains and until the 1960s it provided accommodation for officers of visiting merchant ships.

The Foundation provided funds for the restoration of the building and for an archaeological dig to preserve all heritage values of this important historical site.


With regards to Nobbys Headland, yes, there would be scope for commercial licences to operate at the headland but it is such a restricted site that it is unsuitable for a Motel Style Development which is currently being considered. It is a much smaller area than Fort Denison but it has a more fascination history and it is Newcastle that must be promoted not just one restaurateur.

However a DA has been lodged and may even come before Council again. Councillors will be obliged to consider it and either reject the DA or approve the DA or to Approve the DA with conditions of consent.

However It should never have come to the Councillors in the way it did last time.

It was submitted as a Crown Application under S116C which limits Council as the Consent Authority to just making comments on the development. Rejection is not allowed and Conditions can only be applied with the written consent of the applicant. Nobbys Lighthouse Pty Ltd? This was ethically wrong and may have had no legal base.

I think you would agree that it is outrageous when the Media present only a partial view with pages of information presenting one proposition before Councillors even have a chance to consider a proper DA.

At this stage we believe the invitation for Expressions of Interest published by the Port Corporation must prevail or a new invitation of EOI be published.

I would love you to read the document attached which is basically a request to the Commonwealth Minister to declare the project as a “Controlled Action”

(That would allow for the exhibition of the project and professional assessment).

That is all we can do at this stage.

People of Newcastle spend all their time bagging one another rather that looking for ways and means of presenting the city as Newcastle a special place.

Yours Sincerely
Doug Lithgow

Letter to Councillor John Tate Lord Mayor circa January 2009
Newcastle City Council

Dear John,

Re: Nobbys and Coal River Precinct

In reference to Cr Scott Sharp’s letter published in yesterday’s Herald.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement is anxious that the headland be open to the public as part of Newcastle’s true Coal River Birth Site and recreation area.

There are important public interest matters that must be observed.

You should know this matter was submitted at the State Level as a Crown Development under S116C of the EP&A Act and that there is no evidence that it should have been submitted as a Crown Development. Furthermore the proponent was also in breach of the Commonwealth EPBC Act.

Any development of the Headland at this stage should be in accordance with the Port Corporation’s Invitation for Expressions of Interest and be properly assessed.

The public interest must prevail over private vested interests when considering the development proposal for public land and especially when considering an area such as Nobbys which is of such vital significance to Newcastle and the Nation.

Wishing all Councillors the very best for the New Year.

Yours Sincerely

Doug Lithgow
President Parks and Playgrounds Movement

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