February 4 - 10, 2024: Issue 612


Barrenjoey Boatshed set to open: a few insights into the return of a local favourite

Barrenjoey Boatshed - 'The Joey' - is scheduled to open on Thursday February 8 2024 should all the approvals finally be in place – or failing that, the following Thursday February 15.

The delay has occurred as the applicant is seeking to extend the operating hours from 7:00am to 11:00pm Monday to Sunday. 

Under the old Barrenjoey Boat House the premises is approved to cater for up to 152 patrons from 7 am to 4 pm, 7 days a week as a café and from 4 pm to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays (daylight savings months only) as a function venue. The areas for patronage are split as 48 indoors, 30 outdoor covered deck seating and 74 on the lower deck seating. 

Those who live in the immediate vicinity have cited loud noise, with complaints on record with council since Carmel's and the boatshed changed hands in 2009 (the previous proprietors both advertising and catering to wedding groups up to 200), and the impacts on resident nocturnal wildlife movement and feeding as reasons for refusal. 

A 2017 application, refused by council when former General Manager of Pittwater council Mark Ferguson was CEO of the newly minted NBC, stated in the NBLPP Assessment Report that this would require changing the POM for Governor Phillip Park. That document also pointed out that since the ownership of the property changed in 2009, it appears that there has been ongoing development creep at the site, generally reflective of the surge in popularity of ‘The Boathouse’ as a go-to destination. 

'The capacity of the premises has notably increased, the footprint of the seating space has increased into the front Licenced Area, a number of structures associated with the café have been erected within the front Licenced Area, and the amount of parking spaces within the Licenced Area has been reduced.' the report states, and;

'These changes to the premises, to which there are no records of approval, authorisation or owners consent, are reflected in the plans provided to support the application as the “existing” situation, which demonstrate that the premises currently provide seating for approximately 213 people...'

The report found that 'with respect to capacity, the applicant has provided an amended statement to confirm that the application does not seek consent for the use of the front Licenced Area for seating associated with the café. However, the application seeks to endorse architectural drawings which demonstrate an existing seating area, with fixed seating for approximately 54 people. When visiting the site, the “existing” area is furnished in the same furniture as the remainder of the café, with the same lighting and decorations, and is located behind “The Boathouse” signage. The area is divided from the park by dense landscaping that is once again notably different from the character of the rest of the park, and despite written assurances from the applicant that the area is a public area that can be used by anyone visiting the park; the area obviously serves as a dedicated extension of the café use.'

The Conclusion stated; 

'...the application is ill-founded in that it is reliant upon development creep that has occurred since 2009, which lacks any formal authorisation or development consent and is in breach of the licence arrangement issued for the site'.

The Palm Beach POM provided the following comments with regard to the Licenced Area that resolved, to some degree, the land that had been usurped: 

As recommended by DLWC (Department of Land and Water Conservation)a commercial lease is to be developed between the lessee of Barrenjoey Boathouse and Council for an initial five year period for the area of land to the frontage of the building canopy. Any lease entered into should include: 

- Specific on-site parking for 12 vehicles related to businesses within the Barrenjoey premises. - Location of areas related to storage of equipment or services related to the operation and maintenance of the building to be specified by the lessee. 

- Maintenance of picnic tables, fencing, turfing and the like used specifically by the patrons of the businesses within the boathouse to be undertaken by the lessee. 

- The current lessees of the building have submitted a landscape plan for the area which council has adopted in this plan. And costs associated with the construction of works should be credited against the agreed lease fee. - Scale of the proposed operation.

- Area that the operation will occupy. 

- Area must be accessible to the general public at all times. 

- 15 % of the rental is to be allocated to the Public Reserve Management Fund State Government Fund to assist other reserve trust throughout the state. 

Whilst no parking for patrons of businesses within the boathouse is allocated within the park, Council has agreed to some temporary overflow parking during peak summer periods. This use will be monitored by Council in relation to its impact on the recreational use of the area.

Those who frequented the eatery during these years would also have seen a 'Public Access' sign had been installed beside the public path through the area and eatery shortly after these processes were taken. 

Photos taken this week show the new proprietors have taken out all the previously installed palms, massed strelitzia screening and high pebble swales that gave that inferred the front of building land belonged to the eatery. 

Their landscape plan shows all exotic plants are to be removed (and have been already), to be replaced by Banksia integrifolia trees, which will allow views to Pittwater through their branches and echo those same tree species growing on the bank opposite, Leptospermum laevigatum, endemic to coastal areas on the east coast and with a sweet perfume when in flower, and Acacia sophorae, commonly known as coastal wattle, along with ficinia, scaevola, carpobrotus (pigface) massed under these trees. The focus is definitely on going native and celebrating the public park all around and the National Park of Barrenjoey Headland. That same landscape drawing lists a 'new public path', 'new public picnic tables', 'new public dining areas' and a new ramp to provide accessible access to the paths within the front area to match the accessible parking space that had to wait for the new owners to finally exist. 

That's not the only hallelujah moment.

Proprietors Ben May and Rob Domjen have kept the focus on the local community from the outset. 

Architect Roslyn Toia, Canvas Architecture & Design of Beacon Hill, drew the plans, the building works were undertaken by Blue Pacific Constructions, an Avalon Beach firm, the landscaping is by Landscapes by Linton, of Newport Beach.

The menu features the best products, foods and drink offerings from outfits like the Avalon Brewery and local suppliers to bring together a selection of dishes that celebrate seasonal quality. Even the eggs you will tuck into from the breakfast menu will come from local hens.

The jetty out front, while it will remain for the use of the landlords (government) on one side, The Joey's lease on the side closest to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse will be a place people may tie up and sample their offerings. Step off your boat, step onto the deck and have some superlative seafood.

The Boatshed building itself has been rebuilt on the same footprint but now it is not a closed in old boatshed that's been re-geared to be a cafe and is rotting at the foot. Windows are wider, framing that glorious view of Pittwater and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and what's sailing past, there's more airflow inside, more light, more panache. 

The whole structure had to be raised to comply with required flood level regulations, with half a gazillion new piles installed, meaning the new edition will last for another 75 years, and the resulting 1.5m increase to the height of the building means the upper storey office space has views Home and Away may be keen to showcase.


The Joey Kiosk
Takeaway; 7am to 11am

You can choose between and Acai Bowl, House Granola with yoghurt and seasonal fruit, Crumbed Halomi, Buttermilk Pancakes, Pumpkin Hummus (2 poached eggs, mixed grains, mint, toast), the very popular Bacon and egg roll only The Joey’s version will have 2 eggs and American cheese as well as lashings of bacon on a brioche bun.

The Joey Beach Bar
From 11.30am

Features Share plates of Sydney Rock Oysters, Tiger Prawns, Muhammara, Stracciatella, Frito Misto (whitebait, calamari, school prawns).

Mains include Barramundi, Beer Battered Fisha and Chips, a Fish Burger, Beef Burger, Caesar salad with chicken and a Grain-fed Striploin.

Vegetarians are catered for too - there’s a wide selection of mouth-watering vegan dishes to sample.

Evening Dining 

(should that eventuate)

Includes share plates of a Whole Fish, Lobster, King Crab Pasta, and a 1kg Farm T-Bone. The ‘On Ice’ selection adds Kingfish Crudo as an option to the Sydney Rock Oysters and King Prawns. Mains for those who don’t like to share offer Linguine, Pan-fried Snapper and a Farm Scotch Fillet with a peppercorn and brandy sauce.

Detect a touch of French mingling within this feast of Australia’s finest fruits, veggies, meats and seafoods to be enjoyed by the seashore?

That’s because Guillame Dubois is the chef heading up the kitchen. 

Mr. Dubois is a Michelin trained, results-driven and highly accomplished Executive Chef, and Hospitality Operations specialist. 

Residents at the other end of the peninsula may have tasted his fare when he was Head Chef at the Manly Greenhouse until mid-2022. More recently Mr. Dubois was Executive Chef overseeing all operations within Trippas White Group's premier dining precinct, housed within the Queen Victoria Building - including heading the food and kitchen project for newly opened ESQ Bar & Dining, and re-designing the offering for Reign Champagne Parlour.

The drinks menu is a celebration of the some of Australia's best wines and beers, with a few superlative choices from New Zealand, Italy and France offered as well. 

Feel like a cocktail with one of The Joey's small plate edibles to go with while enjoying the afternoon sun? Try a Maritime Martini, an Aussie 75, a Going Troppo, a Barrenjoey Sprite, a Rainforest Sprite or The Joey Iced Tea.

Considering one of the new owners, Rob Domjen, was Manager of the original Palm Beach Boathouse over a decade ago, and diners were singing his praises then, and Ben May is a Restaurateur with a long list of success stories in hospitality prior to this, all the elements for something good being made available to the community once again are in place.

Council's decision is pending as the Issue goes to publication.

A few Before, During and After pics run below - for those who like all things 'building!' and 'wharves!'. The Pittwater Online News history page for the 75th year of the Barrenjoey Boatshed that ran in 2022 runs as this Issue's History feature as a double-whammy celebration.

Welcome back The Joey - and happy 77th! 

Barrenjoey Boatshed 
In Governor Phillip Park
1191 Barrenjoey Road, Palm Beach

Website: barrenjoeyboatshed.com.au

Instagram  - Facebook

Station Beach from Barrenjoey Headland 2013:


December 2015:

Monday June 6, 2016 after those storms - photo by Brian Friend OAM:

November 2017:

February 2019:

August 27, 2020:

January 2022:

Cameron Greave's demolition photos  - taken February 16, 2022:

Barrenjoey Boatshed rebuild - March  7 2022: 

Barrenjoey Boatshed rebuild – May 14, 2022:

Barrenjoey Boatshed rebuild – May 29, 2023:

Barrenjoey Boatshed rebuild – February 1, 2024:

Hurley, Frank. Palm Beach viewed from Barranjoey [i.e. Barrenjoey] Head, 1940s [circa early 1947, looks like Winter (only a few campers)- the boathouse frame, piles and jetty piles being installed can be seen] [Sydney, New South Wales] Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-158898973 - zoomed in section from to show detail 
Report/uncredited photos by A J Guesdon