Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald reveals details of Premier Gladys Berejiklian's $50m budget injection for National Parks including at Port Stephens

Port Stephens will share in a $50 million upgrade to National Park walking trails when the state budget is unveiled on June 19.

Interpretive signs for both Aboriginal and World War II heritage sites are planned as part of the 23 kilometre long trail.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Saturday that the government would upgrade trails in Sydney, Tweed-Byron, on the Macleay Valley Coast and the South Coast, as well as Port Stephens.

The Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter and Central Coast Scot MacDonald MLC on Monday revealed more details of a $6.7 million spend on upgrades to the 23 kilometre-long Tomaree coastal walk.

“It’s a very popular walk and we’ll be making it even better,” Mr MacDonald said.

“We want to upgrade 23 kilometres of track over the next three to four years and include interpretive centres at World War II sites and Aboriginal heritage sites.

“This is no doubt one of the most popular walks on the NSW coast but this pathway has been developed in a patchwork fashion, this announcement will address that.”

The project includes:

  • Enhanced visitor experiences for the iconic Tomaree Headland including improved access, walking tracks and visitor amenity. Selected sites of the World War II fortifications (gun emplacements, command post and radar site) on Tomaree Head will be interpreted for visitors to the park.
  • Creation of a loop walking track with new access and elevated vistas at Box and Wreck headlands.
  • New links to establish a coastal walking connection to Birubi Point utilising existing and former trails wherever possible.

Mr MacDonald said there was huge tourism potential but also potential for harm and the need to balance the two.

“A management plan will make sure it is controlled, and it is enjoyed, so they can appreciate the environment but not love it to death,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to what I think will be a boost in jobs and a boost in tourism. We know that eco tourism is becoming more and more popular, not only people travelling from all over Australia for attractions like this but from all over the world.”

Deputy mayor Chris Doohan said the project would only reinforce the reputation of the walk.

“Today’s announcement is nothing less than sensational, we have Tomaree Mountain behind which is renowned as one of the best walks on the whole East Coast of Australia,” he said.

“We can work with the Worimi to make this even better. It’s not only going to bring jobs it’s going to bring more tourism.”

In recent weeks, the state government’s made a beeline for Port Stephens with $3 million for a koala sanctuary, a share in $810,000 to upgrade Raymond Terrace Courthouse$30,000 for out-of-hours school care, and elsewhere in the state electorate the $1 million upgrade to Tea Gardens police station.

Ms Berejiklian announced the Tomaree coastal walk upgrade among a series of National Park walks, on Saturday.

“This funding will ensure our National Parks continue to grow and are accessible to everyone,” Ms Berejiklian told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It will protect threatened species and preserve habitats for our wildlife.”