Birubi Point master plan to prioritise $10 million in works over 10 years

HECTIC: The growing popularity of Birubi Point is making scenes like this more and more common.
HECTIC: The growing popularity of Birubi Point is making scenes like this more and more common.

The future prosperity of the Birubi Point Aboriginal place could depend on the implementation of a master plan to both prioritise tourism projects and protect its cultural value.

Councillors were asked to sign off on the plan last month but deferred the matter to seek more detail. 

If approved the plan will set out spending priorities worth $10 million over the next 10 years.

"The master plan is an overall vision to achieve our goals for the Birubi Point Aboriginal Place but it's not the definitive plan," Port Stephens Council community services section manager Steve Bernasconi said.

"Everything that's identified in the master plan will still be subject to detailed design and approval."

Mr Bernasconi will brief councillors on Tuesday, November 21, and and the plan could be adopted before December.

The big picture vision is for a nature walk and headland viewing platform, as well as better use of Robinson Reserve, with a skate park, play ground, and toilets.

A roundabout on James Paterson Street would “alleviate congestion” in peak times with road signs directing people to more car parking at Robinson Reserve.

This is all in addition to a tourist coach interchange as reported in April. 

"It's important to have a plan that sets out what is permissable and what isn't," Mr Bernasconi said.

The land in question was gazetted an Aboriginal place in 2007 and includes land part of the Tomaree National Park, Crown Land and Crown Land the council manages under a trust.

"All of the land that is gazetted an Aboriginal Place becomes an Aboriginal artifact," Mr Bernasconi said.

"There are some big fines if you damage an Aboriginal place."

To mitigate these risks the council has already begun work on the next phase - a management plan - in consultation with stakeholders including the Worimi Conservation Lands Board.​

Residents were invited to take part in the process in August.

Mr Bernasconi said car park congestion over the January long weekend was further proof of not only Birubi’s popularity, as a premier tourism destination, but of the need to facilitate better use of the site.

“We’re loving the area to death and we need to discover ways of managing that love,” he said.

The transport interchange for tourist coaches is considered the “linchpin” to plans. This would be built on Gan Gan Road at the four-wheel-drive track entrance.

The master plan elaborates that a nature walk would link the interchange with existing facilities at the surf lifesaving club and cafe, as well as a headland boardwalk.

The headland boardwalk would be built on the rocky outcrop only metres from cafe and surf lifesaving facilities.

“We’re talking about a nature walk through some beautiful environment,” Mr Bernasconi said.

“It will have points of interest along the way that visitors will be able to learn about from signage.”

The deputy mayor Chris Doohan was vocal at the October meeting in his wish to defer a decision so that councillors could be fully briefed.

“I feel for the new councillors who aren’t aware of all the implications of this plan,” he said.

“Some of these measures will cost a lot of money. I don’t want to hold it up I just want to have a two-way so that we can all be properly informed.”

Cr Giacomo Arnott backed the call to defer it.

“It would be nice to have the time to consider the plan more closely,” he said.

“Between getting the [business] paper and now, I haven’t had enough time to talk to the community about it.”

The plan is expected to come back to council on Tuesday, November 28.

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