January 28 - February 3, 2024: Issue 611


short-term accommodation in barrenjoey headland buildings ruled out: formalisation of Plan of management to occur soon

On November 29, 2023 Pittwater MP Rory Amon asked Questions in the NSW Parliament in relation to the 2022 Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Lion Island, Long Island and Spectacle Island Nature Reserves Draft Plan of Management. Mr. Amon received an answer published on Thursday 11 January 2024 in the NSW Parliamentary papers, confirming the Heritage buildings at Barrenjoey Head will be managed to conserve and communicate the significant cultural heritage of this iconic site. 

The Answers also stated 'The plan will rule out the use of heritage buildings at Barrenjoey Head for visitor accommodation.' 

The final plan will provide scope for the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings at Barrenjoey Head for community or park management purposes, subject to the necessary heritage assessments and approvals.

And; 'The draft plan proposed buildings elsewhere in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park that could be suitable for visitor accommodation in the future.'

The plan is anticipated to be finalised in the near future.

In January 2023 the community gathered at Station Beach, Pittwater to protest against the then coalition state government's plan to allow short-term accommodation in the Lightkeepers cottages. See: Ten Years On ‘Hands Off Barrenjoey!’ Remains The Song, January 2023, Issue 569.

This was the second time the community had lodged responses to a proposed short-term accommodation use of the Barrenjoey Headland buildings.

The 2022 Draft of the 'Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Island Nature Reserves Draft Plan of Management' opened for public consultation during the first week of the September 2022 school holidays with feedback open until November 22nd, 2022. A week later Pittwater MP Rob Stokes announced his departure from state politics.  

The Palm Beach Whale Beach Association (PBWBA) were advised by NPWS they had received over 600 submissions but would not disclose who supported or objected to the changes proposed in the Draft.

One of the objectives of the Palm Beach Whale Beach Association, the Pittwater Environmental Heritage Group and community members, to not have the 2022 Draft changes to the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Island Nature Reserves Draft Plan of Management approved before the state election, was achieved. 

An undertaking this would not occur by then Liberal Candidate for Pittwater in the 2023 State Election, Cr. Rory Amon, was given; as stated by Manly MP James Griffin to him, and confirmed via Twitter by then Pittwater MP Rob Stokes, who also attended the rally.

Should the Liberal National coalition have won another term governing NSW at the March 25 2023 election those opposing short-term accommodation at Barrenjoey Headland stated that win could have been viewed as a mandate to proceed with the commercialisation of a public asset in a way that would exclude the public accessing this site, as has occurred at other lighthouse sites converted for commercial use across the state.

People were also concerned the Heritage values of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse precinct may be compromised, as they have been in other lighthouses converted for short-term accommodation.

The now Minns led incumbent Labour government's current Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Minister for Environment and Heritage and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, The Hon. Penny Sharpe, MLC, attended the second Barrenjoey Rally, stating to the crowd:

‘I’d like to begin by Acknowledging the Garigal people who for tens of thousands of years have looked after places like this. We owe them a great debt, we also owe them the responsibility of making sure we don’t wreck it. 

I’d also like to thank Rob for giving that overview of what is happening at Barrenjoey and also across the state, and that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

National Parks are given the highest status of protection for a reason. We decide that we’re going to set them aside to conserve everything that is important about what’s in them. That includes, obviously, the plants and animals and the stories that are there, but it also includes the cultural and built heritage that has developed over time that tells a story of this nation.

This is something that is on the National Heritage register. It’s on the State Heritage register. There have been more studies done about this lighthouse than we may ever read in a lifetime, thousand and thousands of pages and millions of words.

What it comes down to is this is a very special place. It is owned by the public, it’s actually our responsibility and the government’s responsibility to care for it into the future.’


‘I was glad that Rob reminded us of the Plan of Management (PoM) to get the detail of what needs to be done and how we can turn this around. 

In 2002 the previous Labor Government did the Plan of Management. The PoM’s that are developed for National Parks are extremely important, they’re very detailed, they are based on science, based on heritage assessments, and if they’re working properly, they actually involve the local community and involve the First Nations people as they are developed.

It was decided then that this was a special place and it wasn’t going to be commercialised or privatised. 

In 2013 a new government comes in and straight away they’re looking at how we can commercialise the site.  No one is opposed to fixing it and looking after it and how the public can better use and access those buildings. No one is arguing against that – but when you start to put on all this about ‘adaptive reuse’ or a potential for a ‘conference centre’, as has been proposed across the water, or the potential for accommodation here, then you know you are starting to degrade the place straight away. There needs to be a careful conversation if ever that happens and it really is unacceptable.

What is also unacceptable is that the government ruled out exactly what they’re trying to do right now. 

You fought back in 2013, and good on you to all of you who have been doing this for decades. I don’t think I’ve been here since I was about 15 I worked out this morning. 

This was a promise that this wouldn’t occur. And let’s not forget that the current government has ignored the PoM since 2002, so why the unseemly rush, literally less than 60 days out from a state election, to try and sign this off and say there is nothing that can be done?

There’s always something that can be done – and the first thing that should happen today is that Minister Griffin, the Minister for Environment and Heritage, should make the commitment that he is not going to sign off on the Draft Plan of Management until after the election and the people of this area and beyond can have their say about what they think should happen here.

The last thing I wanted to say is it’s not just Barrenjoey. After 2013 when Rob Stokes said ‘no, we’re not going to do that, we’re going to look after it and care for it’, the current government has stripped over a period of time $120 million out of National Parks system. 

In 2015 I was leaked a memo from the National Parks and Wildlife Service that basically said ‘we cannot sustain the cuts that are being made by the government. If we are forced to try and implement all these cuts we will have to look for commercial opportunities everywhere across the state.’

Fast forward to 2023 and it doesn’t matter where it is, across the state communities like yours are fighting against this kind of commercialisation, and frankly, privatisation of these very precious places. 

It has to stop. 

I urge you all today to do a couple of things; keep speaking loudly about this. Speak to Rob Stokes, he is still the local Member here, he still has a responsibility here. Speak to all the local candidates for the state election – it’s good to see Jeffrey Quinn here, who is our Labor candidate, and Jacqui Scruby’s people – I think I saw Elizabeth Farrelly over there, and Rory is here, and the Greens candidate Hilary Green – you need to raise your voices. Speak up and speak together – you can turn this around but you need to stay together. 

I’m very happy to be here with you today. Thank you.’


The Hon. Penny Sharpe at the 2023 Barrenjoey Rally

President of the Palm Beach Whale Beach Association Prof. Richard West AM said on behalf of members as Pittwater Online went to press,

‘’The PBWBA is pleased that this plan will not be going ahead. We congratulate the State government and the Hon. Penny Sharpe for listening to the community.’’

Barrenjoey Lighthouse and the Lightkeepers cottages are the oldest intact buildings in Pittwater. It is important these be preserved for their Heritage and for our children and children’s children.

The Barrenjoey Headland is one of the few remaining lighthouses the people of Sydney and thousands of visitors from overseas may readily access. The views in all directions are second to none, the bushland that surrounds these buildings allows people to come into contact with nature in a pristine environment and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and Keepers Cottages allow people to step into the shoes of those who first served on this headland from the 1860’s on.

Not only is Barrenjoey Lighthouse and the Lightkeepers cottages a landmark and beacon for Pittwater, this iconic site is known and celebrated all over the world.

To have a state government that recognises these values to those who live here and those who visit from all over Sydney and all over the world, and is intent on keeping them as they should be, is a boon for our community and NSW itself.

The PBWBA would also like to thank all those in the community who have supported keeping these cottages and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse precinct as a public place for all. Heritage listed buildings and National Park areas should be kept for the benefit of ALL people.''

The community has welcomed the answers achieved through the persistence of Pittwater MP Rory Amon but are still cautious, awaiting the formalisation of the 2022 Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Lion Island, Long Island and Spectacle Island Nature Reserves Draft Plan of Management to read what it contains.

However, it is worth noting this quote from The Hon. Penny Sharpe, as provided by the NSW EPA, is in step with Pittwater community aspirations. 

The Minister was first elected to the NSW Legislative Council in October 2005. She has a passion for the environment and is committed to policy reform and action.

Protection and care of our environment, and respect for and celebration of our heritage is core business for state governments. It is a responsibility that comes with great opportunities, some serious challenges, but the knowledge that when we get it right, we are passing on a better future for those that come after us. - The Hon. Penny Sharpe

Photos: 2023 Barrenjoey Rally

Pittwater MP Rory Amon speaking at 2023 Barrenjoey Rally


Report/photos: A J Guesdon