Article from Port Stephens Examiner
Over this year a number of announcements have come at a time when the future of the iconic Tomaree Headland is hanging in the balance.
Of critical importance is the news that Tomaree Lodge will be vacated as a residential facility.
In the lead up to this year’s state election both the government and the opposition committed to retaining the lodge site of nearly 9-hectares in public ownership and to plan its future use with community consultation.
At the same time the state revealed its commitment to the construction by National Parks of a $6.8 million coastal walk from Tomaree Headland to Birubi Beach. Major upgrades of tracks and interpretation are planned for the National Park component of Tomaree Head.
Other creative proposals for use of the Tomaree Lodge have emerged including an aquarium to display our rich marine life and a major interpretive centre based on our cultural and WWII heritage.
Taken together, such concepts can transform Tomaree Headland into a nationally significant tourist attraction which could, at the same time, protect its natural and heritage assets and achieve financial sustainability.
If pursued without a proper masterplan, there is a potential for adverse impacts on the natural beauty of the headland and on community support.
Another concern is the capacity of the headland to cope with increased visitation which will require public toilets and augmentation of car and coach parking which is already at saturation.
Off-site car parking with shuttle bus transfers to the headland may ultimately be the answer. In the last week private investors have announced plans for a skywire augmenting access to the summit of Tomaree and this proposal would need to be evaluated in the context of the masterplan.
In January 2019 the Friends of Tomaree Headland was formed bringing together representatives from business, tourism, community and environmental groups who prepared a vision for the future of the headland.
This identified the natural and heritage features which could form the basis for a major investment in interpretation making use of the existing Tomaree Lodge infrastructure.
In the immediate future to protect the Tomaree Lodge, there is a need to ensure the continuing occupation with temporary tenants.
We will continue to encourage the state government to be on its front foot by urgently commencing headland planning.
Friends of Tomaree Headland