December 11 2022 - January 14 2023: Issue 566


Residents, Business Owners, Pittwater Councillor Call For Halt To Avalon Shared Space Works: Flooding Caused - APA States It Is 'Extremely Disappointed'

Residents, Business owners, the Avalon Preservation Association and Pittwater Councillor Miranda Korzy have called for a halt to the Avalon Shared Space works due to the impact these have had on the community and businesses adjacent to the works.

In its Monday December 19th Bulletin APA stated;

Delays in commencement of construction of the One Way Shared Zone has resulted in significant disruption to Avalon

Village. The delay has meant construction work has been pushed into the busy Christmas holiday period. Retailers are

angry. Drivers are angry. Residents are confused. In an effort to have this work completed expeditiously the re-established Avalon Chamber of Commerce has been in direct contact with Council CEO Ray Brownlee.

Despite early assurances that the number of contractors would be increased and work finished quickly Council recently had to update the schedule again. The bulk of the works were to be completed by 14th December. As of 15th December this current deadline has also not been met.

The following Works have now been deferred until February:

  • south eastern footpath upgrade;
  • formalisation of eastern crossing;
  • shade structures in Old Barrenjoey Road.

Despite our best efforts, APA have not been given any indication of when the surface in the Shared Zone will be coloured to delineate the difference between the Pedestrian Only areas and the 10kph Shared Zone of Pedestrians and Cars. No date has been given for the installation of planters and planting.

APA is extremely disappointed with the delays in construction and, the trial has not yet begun!''

On Tuesday December 20th Councillor Miranda Korzy stated

''I'm calling for a halt to work on Avalon's shared zone.

I have just asked the council's CEO to immediately halt work on the Avalon shared roadway project and to carry out an emergency assessment of it and emergency measures to decrease the flood risk - increased by the road works - to businesses in Old Barrenjoey Road. This should include provision of sandbags until the work is done.

I believe the project has been marred by multiple problems, including several requiring remediation and revisions, that have caused enormous inconvenience to Avalon residents, businesses and visitors.

Some of these include:

Disastrous timing - meaning that work has impacted on the Christmas trading period in Avalon. The project was not finished let alone bedded down before traffic increased from holiday visitors. This has undermined residents’ confidence in the council.

Inadequate publicity and signage at the beginning of the road works - given they took many residents by surprise. Small signs, on posts near pedestrian crossings, were not seen by most people - especially when they slid to the ground.

Lack of traffic controllers when the northbound lane on Old Barrenjoey Road was first closed and during roadworks and work on pedestrian crossings, leading to traffic chaos. I also saw for myself children, after leaving school at 3.30pm, crossing the road in amongst the confusion.

Large queues of traffic forming on Avalon Parade, past the Bowling Green Lane Car Park particularly at peak times - such as school drop off and pick up.

Moving of a bus stop to Barrenjoey Road with a traffic island in front of it and in close proximity to the driveway of the Shell petrol station. This encouraged school students to cross in front of buses with cars unable to see them, and poor visibility for motorists leaving the Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club (which is almost directly across the road).

To fix this problem, the bus stop was moved again in front of the traffic island.

Installation of pedestrian ramps that are too steep for pedestrians using walkers on Avalon Parade and Old Barrenjoey Road. Staff have told me that the one ones on Avalon Parade are compliant with road standards, however, I've seen an elderly woman crossing the road there, with her walker running away from her as she negotiated the slope and she then got stuck at the ramp at the other side - and had to be helped by two other people to walk up to the footpath.

Visibility at the relocated pedestrian crossing on the northern side of Avalon Pde, near Barefoot Boulevarde, is restricted by plants so that pedestrians can still be seen choosing to cross at the corner where the old crossing was located.

Mistakes with laying bitumen on Old Barrenjoey Road, that led to flooding over the footpath and close to shop entrances.

Delays to remediation of the roadway caused by unavailability of a machinery to do the work.

New laying of bitumen on Old Barrenjoey Road has resulted in flooding of the roadway and inundation of a pedestrian ramp over the past weekend and today.

I have had a phone call today from a resident who said he had seen a disabled person trying to cross at the pedestrian ramp on the north-east corner of Old Barrenjoey Rd and Avalon Pde get stuck in the water - and was then helped by another person with a disability to get out.

Throughout this work and while these problems continue, Sydney Water has also been digging up the roads in the centre of Avalon village. They have also sprayed paint across the footpaths in multiple colours which is still there.

A section of the council carpark next to Woolworths Avalon store was closed off during the work, at a time that the village has lost in excess of nine parking spaces due to the work.

Similarly, Woolworths closed off the footpath at both ends of its shop two weeks ago, during the day, to work on their eaves - blocking access to pedestrians during the period before school started, so that children and parents were forced into the path of traffic in the carpark during the busy period.

The local business chamber, via councillors, requested all work stop by December 13, in preparation for Avalon’s pre-Christmas late night shopping night on December 15. Pittwater councillors, however, emphasised to staff that we needed work to reduce the increased risk of flooding to shops as quickly as possible.

Work was scheduled to be carried out between 10pm and 5am - to avoid disrupting businesses, especially cafes and restaurants. Councillors have asked on multiple occasions for this to be enforced with contractors. However, work has started before 10pm on multiple nights.

Having spoken to the business chamber and business owners, they are nervous that with further rain their premises will be flooded.

Throughout December, the start of Avalon’s peak trading period, the village has looked like a construction zone and residents have avoided it because of the traffic problems.

Given this extensive list of issues, I’m now requesting that:

1. Work be halted and an emergency assessment be carried out of the design, planning process, and compliance with agreed schedules, including start and finish times.

2. Emergency measures be taken to prevent flooding occurring in business premises in Old Barrenjoey Road. ''

In Streets As Shared Spaces Work To Pause In Time For Thursday Night Xmas Shopping by Miranda Korzy, Pittwater Greens Councillor, Ms Korzy went to the work site late into the evening as the night works were in progress. The workers explained a milling machine works gouges into the road surface to provide a channel for drainage.

However, this has not been successful at this location, with pooling where vehicles pass and flooding now impacting on the businesses adjacent to the Shared Space section.

Avalon Beach Shared Space after Monday's downpour. Photo: RA

The section has always been prone to flooding, as instanced since the commencement of the Avalon Beach subdivisions under A J Small, who donated what became Dunbar Park to Warringah Shire Council on the proviso that the flooding was fixed with adequate drainage.

This photo was taken in 1974 by John Stone and shows the same location where the two footpaths were recently “joined” between Stapleton Arcade and Ecodownunder at 2/74 Old Barrenjoey Rd.

Drainage remediation was undertaken after this photo was taken.

Photo courtesy ABHS

''Thirty or forty sandbags were still sitting in that environment after the downpour on Monday December 12 around 11.15am.'' the APA states.

On May 4th 2022 The Hon. Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater, announced funding for a pedestrian shared space trial within the Avalon village.

The NSW Government allocated $500,000 to support Northern Beaches Council’s proposal for a shared pedestrian and vehicle zone at the northern end of Old Barrenjoey Road (between Avalon Parade and the Woolworths car park).

The Council has stated that part of these funds are to take out what is installed should a six month trial prove to be a failure. However a similar pilot scheme along the Dee Why beachfront was extended by the Northern Beaches Council for 12 months in May 2022, despite the objections of adjacent business owners.

That 'trial' has been operating since August 2021 and includes the implementation of one-way traffic flow and combining the existing two bike lanes to a side by side two-way cycleway on The Strand to enable an extended pedestrian boardwalk and outdoor dining.

The Council has stated the Strand trial will now continue until April 2023. 

On Tuesday morning, December 20th, a resident forwarded the following photo showing the street furniture is now in place and the gutter/shared space still runs flush to the pavement.


Jacqui Scruby Announced As Independent Candidate For Pittwater For NSW 2023 State Election

Photo supplied.

Local environmental lawyer, former business owner and climate change advisor to be Pittwater’s voice at state election 

Environmental lawyer and corporate climate change advisor Jacqui Scruby has announced her community-backed candidacy for the state electorate of Pittwater. 

Scruby’s announcement comes as the controversial issue of oil and gas drilling just kilometres off the electorate’s coastline reared its head again, with the company announcing the project is “far from over”. 

Scruby, 39, lives in Pittwater with her husband and two daughters and launched her campaign saying local people need a genuine voice representing them in state Parliament. 

“I’m a mum, environmental lawyer, and most recently was an advisor to our wonderful federal independent MP, Sophie Scamps,” Scruby said. 

“Having just worked with Dr Scamps to improve the Climate Change Act and usher in the new National Anti-Corruption Commission, I’ve seen first-hand how independents bring their community’s voice to Parliament. But the job is far from done.”

Scruby will advocate for strong climate action, restoring integrity and trust in state politics, and ensuring NSW’s economy is managed responsibly. Having been a small business owner herself, she will work hard to make sure the state government doesn’t stand in the way of the incredible small businesses in Pittwater. She’ll also advocate for equality and acknowledges that NSW Parliament has a way to go to reflect the NSW community.

“Cost of living is a major issue for the people of Pittwater. Businesses and households should be energy independent. As the home of abundant sunshine and cheap renewables, fuel and electricity prices should be immune from inflation and global markets - it’s policy failure that they’re not. We need to make sure every family and business has affordable access to our abundant and cheap renewables to eliminate petrol costs and avoid energy bills. It’s a no brainer.”

“Having worked the majority of my career advising Corporate Australia on managing risk and seizing the opportunities of the renewable economy - it’s time to take that approach to make sure NSW captures the opportunities of a renewable economy. The people of Pittwater get it - they know what makes environmental sense, also makes economic sense and therefore makes common sense.”

A Pittwater local, Scruby states she will fight to make her community’s voice be heard on local issues, including on legislating against oil and gas drilling, including the PEP-11 project, right off the electorate’s coastline.

“The Liberal/National government hasn’t legislated against offshore oil and gas drilling projects. PEP-11 and future projects remain a risk to our beaches. Our community has made their voice clear: we must save our beaches. No oil and gas on our coastline.” she says

Added to this LGNSW stated on December 12 2022 property developers have been gifted an early Christmas present after the NSW Government announced it would sideline councils and communities from assessing new major housing developments.

Under the Rezoning Pathways Program, developers can nominate rezoning proposals for more than 1,000 dwellings on sites in metropolitan NSW and at least 300 dwellings in regional NSW. These proposals would bypass councils and instead be assessed by the state’s planning department.

Despite the major implications of the scheme, the NSW Government has failed to detail how local provisions will be considered when these residential developments are assessed and what community consultation, if any, will occur.

LGNSW President Darriea Turley AM said the new program was the latest example of the NSW Government cosying up to property developers at the expense of councils and the communities they represent. 

“The changes that are being proposed here would affect every council area in the state. It also brings into question what, if any, consideration will be given to existing local plans and policies when major housing developments are being assessed," Cr Turley said. “A few years ago, the NSW Government took development application powers off Sydney councils and introduced mandatory local planning panels. The argument was that councillors should focus on strategic planning rather than on individual development applications.

“Now with this latest announcement, the government is coming after the strategic planning as well.

The impact on local communities of the loss of local remnant bushland to further property development has also been an issue residents have stayed focussed on, particularly the plan to further a development at Belrose (Lizard Rock), which the Council objected to again in November. This is a clear instance of what LGNSW has spoken against. Residents are also opposed to state government plans to clear koala habitat in western Sydney. Pittwater koalas became effectively extinct in 1985 due to property developers following their own agenda and cutting down the food trees that linked the koala paths to food areas in our area.

The Pittwater community is not only passionate about conserving its local natural beauty. People are appalled at NSW currently clearing an area of native forest 50 times the size of Sydney’s CBD each year, as well as costing the NSW government $29 million annually. 

“In NSW we have the National party hellbent on killing koalas, insisting we continue logging native forests at the tax payers’ expense - turning our best carbon stores into woodchips for foreign toilet paper. It’s another case of the tail wagging the dog when it comes to the coalition.” Scruby states

“People are savvy when it comes to climate. They know the job is far from done. In NSW we’ve opened 11 new coal mines under the current government, completely negating any action on climate - and our export emissions are abhorrent. It’s time to say no to new coal and gas.”

Scruby added: “There are pressing local issues too. For too long, Pittwater has been neglected - we’ve lost our public hospital, we no longer have Pittwater Council, and one of our main roads floods seemingly every time it rains. The Pittwater community wants to protect our beautiful area - and the best way to do that is to have an independent voice in state Parliament. As a community-led independent, I will always vote in the interests of our community, not in a party’s best interests.”

“We need to get serious about climate action to ensure Pittwater is resilient to impacts of climate change like coastal erosion, flooding and polluted water. We are blessed with the best renewable energy resources in the world, so we should step up as a leader on climate action and legislate a 60% by 2030 emissions reduction target,” she added.  

Launch event to meet the candidate is being held on Tuesday December 13 2022 at the Park House, Mona Vale, commencing at 5.30 pm.


Gold For Emma Dieters At 2022 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championship

Emma Dieters, chaired by  her husband, celebrates winning her first world title. Photo: ISA/Pablo Franco

Emma Dieters (Mona Vale) set a new record at the ISA Para Surfing Championship on day three of competition in the 2022 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championship. Her 17.83 heat total in Women's Prone 2 was the highest in history and a remarkable feat for the first-time competitor.

"It feels awesome. I was just lucky, I think I was in the the right spot at the right time. It was big out there," Emma said after her surf.

"This whole experience is like none other. All teammates, competitors, event staff and volunteers are so supportive and just amped to pump you up. There’s no pressure to do well just support to do your best. This makes it easy to enjoy the whole experience. I'm stoked with my current position and looking to keep focused on my finals run," Dieters said.

At 51-years-old Sam Bloom (Newport) is determined to continue improving. Competing for the first time in the unassisted Women’s Prone 1 division, the two-time Women’s Prone 2 gold medallist collected a 14.17 heat total and sits on top of the leaderboard ahead of defending champion Sarah Bettencourt (USA).

Sam sits at the top of the leaderboard in her division, with the Finals for Women’s Prone 1 commencing later today, Sunday December 11th.

Sam Bloom, Team Australia. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Lee Ferrier (Narrabeen) won his Round 2 heat in Men's Prone 2 and progressed to the semi-finals before being eliminated. However, he's still on the beach, cheering on his team mates.

Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart found redemption on day four in Men’s Kneel Round 2, jumping all the way to the top of the leaderboard after a shocking Round 1 heat on day one left him at the bottom of the rankings. He is also in the Finals.

A shock loss for Matt Formston (AUS) in the Semifinals allowed for his teammate Jack Jackson (AUS) to compete in his first Final.

The BIG news already available for locals is Emma Dieters is one of two new World Champions crowned Saturday morning, December 10th our time, and the 9th at the 2022 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championships.

Starting with an 8.33 and quickly backing it up with an 8.93, Australia’s Emma Dieters left fellow Women’s Prone 2 finalists Sarah Almagro (ESP), Celine Rouillard (FRA) and Jocelyn Neumueller (AUS) needing a combination of two waves to take the win. A 9.00 from teammate and defending champion Neumueller left the door open, with both surfers waiting for scores on the sand, but in the end it was first-time competitor Dieters winning the gold medal, Neumeuller, silver, Almagro, bronze, and Rouillard, copper.

“I can’t believe that this has just happened,” Dieters said. “It’s an incredible feeling. To go one and two for Australia is just amazing.”

"I wanted to do it for my kids, my family, everyone that's got me here. It's been amazing." Emma said

Emmas' two children were watching on, and her husband was her support person in the water. 

"I've got champions who are right by my side, helping me, giving me direction and just want to thank them for all the encouragement and support and just the good vibe with the crew here," she said.

Sam Bloom also commented on 'Team Australia', stating ''Our 2022 Irukandji Para Surf team encapsulates the true spirit of being an Aussie.''


Emma Dieters in the final. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans


Plan To Commercialise Barrenjoey Lighthouse Precinct On Timetable To Be Pushed Through Prior To 2023 State Election

The Palm Beach Whale Beach Association recently met with NPWS to express the opposition the community has for the proposal to commercialise the precinct.  They were not given any assurance that this would not be proceeded with. In fact, PBWBA members at the meeting came away with the opposite impression. 

Around 400 submissions have been made to the 2022 'Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Island Nature Reserves Draft Plan of Management’ although NPWS staff could not state how many were made about the proposal for Barrenjoey.

NPWS also stated they would remain in charge of hiring out the premises once permission to proceed with their plans were approved, although, in every other case of a NSW Lighthouse being turned into premises for commercial accommodation, commercial licenses calling for tenders are announced and the places farmed out to contractors and these are soon placed in charge of the premises. All of these contracts exclude the public, apart from a required all access two weekends annually in some cases, and are essentially a privatisation of what is a public asset.

The Association was informed that NPWS will submit a report to the NSW Heritage Minister, Manly MP James Griffin in January 2023.  The Minister considers the plan, submissions and advice, makes any necessary changes and decides whether to adopt the plan under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Once a plan is adopted, it is published on the NPWS website, and key stakeholders, including those who made a submission on the draft plan, will be notified.

It is likely there is a push to have this ratified prior to the 2023 State Election, as is evolving in other plans the incumbent state government has lately tabled and to which communities across the Sydney Basin have raised fierce objections. Proposals which are opened for ‘feedback’ are not been substantially changed in response to clearly enunciated concerns and mass amounts of objections. They are simply approved as though the first opportunity to do so was actually a statement of intent.

President of the PBWBA Prof. Richard West AM stated the Association presented a strong case that the Assistant Lighthouse Keepers cottage is the most historic building in Pittwater, still in its original state, and part of the heritage of the area. Changing it to insert a kitchen and bathroom and whatever else would be required to make it viable as commercial accommodation would be tantamount to vandalism.

‘’This site should be kept as it is. Access for all people all the time is a fundamental aspect of our publicly owned buildings and sites.’’ Prof. West said

The government should remain mindful there was a major rally held in 2012 in Governor Phillip Park which spoke loudly against the proposal. There is nothing to suggest the Pittwater community, or  supporters from further afield, have changed their view.’’

The proposal is the fourth time the state government has presented a plan to 'repurpose' the historic precinct since 2013.

The Discussion paper on  Leases, licences and consents - 1.4MB explained that 'Commercial activities in parks are managed according through one of the following types of agreements' and listed examples, including the first in this list as;

' A lease: a formal agreement between NPWS and an entity for ongoing exclusive rights to occupy and use land or a facility for five years or longer (even if that use is not 24 hours a day, seven days a week)'.

This paper asked 'What commercial visitor services and events would you like to see offered in the park?'

On September 23rd, as public schools commenced their Spring holiday break, the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Island Nature Reserves Draft Plan of Management public consultation. Feedback closed November 2022 - with two documents which state 'the Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse buildings are being considered for adaptive reuse for visitor accommodation and other community uses'.

The Document states that Barrenjoey Head has been connected to water and sewer mains - the concept plans for an amenities building, released for feedback until May 2nd, 2022 stated in answer to its own question; 

What's happening with the lighthouse and keepers quarters?

''The lighthouse is open for guided tours. There are no plans to change the existing use or increase access to the lighthouse or historic buildings on the headland.''

However, page 7, Table 2 of the 2022 the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Island Nature Reserves Draft Plan of Management states, the follow-on from those 2019 discussions papers, states;

Building Barrenjoey Head - Potential new or additional use:

Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage; NPWS and/or community use, including visitor tours

Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage; NPWS and/or community use or visitor services (e.g. short-stay visitor accommodation, visitor tours)

Boatman’s Cottage; Staff, caretaker or short-stay visitor accommodation

The Basin's Beechwood Cottage, currently used as a Group function venue, is also listed for a 'Potential new or additional use';  community and/or visitor services (e.g. short-stay visitor accommodation,  hospitality venue1) 1 means a Hospitality venue, a café, kiosk or restaurant. The Basin House, currently used as a NPWS Staff office, functions and tour operator use, is also proposed as 'Additional visitor services such as short-stay visitor accommodation'.

The Basin also has a proposal for Mobile recreation equipment hire operators; 'Licensed mobile equipment hire at various locations where equipment hire is not currently provided (e.g. mountain bikes or paddleboards).

The document also proposes; 'Mobile food and beverage operators - Licence mobile operators at sites which don't currently offer these services'.

In regards to mountain bikes, there is also a proposal in the document which states, 'New tracks and trails - Assess new shared-use trails for horse riding, mountain biking and bush walking.'

In August 2020 Pittwater Online News forwarded to the NPWS footage of a wallaby being run over on an illegal bike track at Ingleside. There has been no reply - as yet. 

The Northern Beaches Councils'  Open Space and Outdoor Recreation and Action Plan' sought feedback in August 2022, with most of this document focused on the council's proposal to formalise illegal mountain bike tracks in our area, including those in Ingleside Reserve and adjacent National Parks areas, along with local open green urban spaces, such as Whitney Reserve at Mona Vale and Trafalgar Park at Newport.

Council staff have recommended that document be approved at the forthcoming December 13 2022 meeting. The 'community engagement' report that accompanies this is filled with residents objections but the document has not been modified in response to that feedback, and the staff report states residents are mostly 'supportive' of the plan.

It is understood the Palm Beach Whale Beach Association will update the community in mid January 2023, once they are aware what's next.


Elanora Heights Public School’s Great Initiatives: Composting – Eat A Rainbow - Bush Track 

Eleanora Height PS has been having a GREAT year with the culmination of the Bush Track project this year, while two other ongoing initiatives focus on sustainability and setting the youngsters up for lifelong healthy eating.

This Tawny Frogmouth family living by the Elanora school Bush Track approves! Photos: Jen Peachey 

Composting for the future

The school has had a composting program going for many years.

One family, the Tutts, has had all three children contribute as they moved through the school. Madison, now 17 and in Year 12, Lachlan, now 14 and in Year 11 and Mitch, who is just finishing Year 6.

Mum Jenny says it was Madison who ‘paved the way’ and inspired her brothers to get involved.

All three children volunteered to be a Compost and Recycling Monitor at the start of Year 3 and did so every week for four years! Mitch received a school award to thank him for his service.

Three volunteers from the same family! Photo courtesy Jenny Tutt

Through composting, students at Elanora Heights Public School are learning great habits which make a huge difference over a lifetime. They see the magic of food scraps turning into rich soil, filled with worms and bugs doing the work of recycling.

Otherwise, the leftovers and paper bags would go to Kimbriki where organic matter, if buried in landfill, decomposes without oxygen and releases methane, a much more potent climate-changing gas than CO2.  Making responsible decisions about waste empowers students to do something positive for the environment every day. 

The compost is used for vegetable gardens in the school, reducing the need to source this from elsewhere.

Another project the school has undertaken is Eat a Rainbow.

Healthy smiles at the end of this rainbow...

Want your child to eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits? 

Eat a Rainbow!

K-2 students at Elanora Heights PS enjoyed sampling a huge range of unusual fruits and vegetables as part of their Eat a Rainbow morning. Pomegranate, mushrooms, brussel sprout, bean sprouts, dragon fruit, alfalfa and beetroot are all eagerly eaten, along with more familiar foods.

This is another unique Elanora parent initiative to encourage healthy eating habits that complements PDHPE units taught by Eleanora Heights teachers. Volunteer parents present a nutritional lesson to each class and provide an appetising array of fruits and vegetables cut into all manner of shapes. These are arranged in rainbow colours and children take at least one item of each colour to create a picture on a paper plate, then eat it! 

This idea was parent Janine Ralston’s brainstorm. 

Eat a Rainbow is just one of the unique Elanora nutritional programs. 2022 was the tenth year of Make My Own Lunch where all students in Years 3 to 6 participate in a parent-led nutrition lesson followed by making either a wrap or salad jar from an enticing smorgasbord of delicious healthy foods. Classroom teachers support this initiative by making their own lunch and promoting the value in this.

How’s this for a Christmas idea? Elanora canteen offers rainbow fruit platters as a healthy birthday alternative. Eat a Rainbow this Christmas!

A Bush Track Leading Back…. To that Original Elanora 

Elanora Heights Public School enjoys a wonderful location, facing east to the ocean breezes with large grassed grounds, surrounded by strips of remnant bushland. However, invading weeds are a constant challenge not covered by regular school funding. A $14,000 Sustainable Schools Grant, a passionate teacher, a school staff team and dedicated parents have transformed the Elanora Bush Track into a beautiful and inspiring example of what is possible. Rob Stokes visited last week to celebrate the completion of the grant project.

Children, parents and teachers walk up and down this track every day, but the surrounding bush was very degraded by weeds and major clearing in 2018 for bushfire risk mitigation. A site-specific Bushfire Risk Management Plan for the 0.3ha patch below Elanora Rd showed that much less fuel reduction was required, enabling regeneration to occur. With grant funding, professional bush regenerators led the attack on weeds with a keen team of parent volunteers and staff regularly assisting. Local native plants sprouted everywhere. Flannel flowers are flourishing in the sunny slope, along with violets and wetland plants beside the drainage line, now turned into a sandstone creek bed. Parents who are professional ecologists living nearby provided lists of the native flora and fauna, identifying 100 indigenous plants on the site, visited by 42 native birds, 5 marsupials, 9 reptiles and 4 amphibians!

This project has been led by teacher Jenny Cullen who has been keenly involved in environmental education since starting teaching in 1981. Jenny says, “This is the best Christmas present ever! I am overjoyed to see this patch restored to a place of beauty, filled with such an extraordinary diversity of local plants. If we don’t keep these small areas of bushland, we lose the creatures too. It’s so important for our children to understand and treasure our local bushland – and they just love learning about it.”

The Hon. Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater recently paid tribute to the Bush Track project in a Private Members Statement in the NSW Parliament, stating;

''Elanora Heights Public School is one school way leading the way in bushland restoration. I was delighted to see the school secure a $14,000 Sustainable Schools Grant under a program that I introduced as Education Minister. Its Bush Track project is focused on the school's precious acre of remnant bushland. Jenny Cullen, who runs the school's environmental education program, conceptualised and embraced the project, and through her passion has inspired teachers, students, parents and neighbours. 

Managing remnant bushland on school sites can have a range of wider community benefits. It provides an opportunity to teach young people how to understand, value and care for the environment that sustains us. Encouraging our kids to help, and spend time in, nature can improve their physical and mental wellbeing. It also provides an opportunity for the wider school community—teachers, parents, neighbours and alumni—to come together in common purpose, forging links that build a stronger society as well as a healthier environment. It provides the opportunity for a school to be a good neighbour—managing pests, weeds, and combating illegal dumping or other antisocial behaviours. It builds on the existing opportunities to share our school spaces, not just for recreation but for restoration. But beyond all these benefits, bush regeneration on school sites inspires young people to love, and care for, the environment. As Rachel Carson said, "The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction."

On December 1st 2022 Rob visited the school to celebrate the completion of the grant project and the volunteer effort of parents and teachers.  

Photo: EHPS



Streets As Shared Spaces Work To Pause In Time For Thursday Night Xmas Shopping

By Miranda Korzy, Pittwater Greens Councillor

The section of Old Barrenjoey Road, Avalon Beach after the asphalt had been installed and prior to milling works for drainage taking place.

Northern Beaches Council staff have promised that road works related to the Avalon “Streets as shared spaces” project will pause in time for Avalon’s special Christmas late night shopping on Thursday.

Pittwater Councillors Rory Amon (Liberal), Michael Gencher (Your Northern Beaches) and I met with members of the Avalon Business Chamber on Thursday morning to hear about the impact of the road works on local shops and cafes.

Many businesses are concerned about the noise of heavy machinery, delays at the intersection of Old Barrenjoey Road and Avalon Parade, as well as relocation of bus stops. The problems are a culmination of misfortunes following nearly three years of Covid, the closure of Woolworths plus the council carpark during the year, and work by Sydney Water in recent weeks.  

However, I’ve spoken to most shop owners or managers near the intersection this week, and a number are positive about the trial and think it will improve the village, some are relieved to see the change of position for the intersections (where they’ve seen too many close calls), and I’ve even had one business owner tell me that although their takings were down in the first week of the road works, since then business has been booming!     

Frustrations for residents and shop owners alike were exacerbated when contractors laid bitumen incorrectly last Sunday night on the new shared zone on Old Barrenjoey Road. The surface was meant to have a 2 degree slope from both sides towards the centre of the road, designed to drain rainwater into the stormwater pipes below Avalon Parade, at the north-west corner of Old Barrenjoey Rd. However, the bitumen was spread so that the whole road surface was flat - creating a potential flood hazard and alarming nearby shops.

Pittwater councillors then met with council staff on Thursday afternoon to nut out the best way forward. The following points were made:

  • Councillors passed on the business chamber’s concerns as well as describing the community’s frustrations and anger about the timing of the project, with Avalon’s influx of holiday visitors already arriving. 
  • The dangers of the positioning of the pedestrian island on Barrenjoey Rd in front of the new bus stop were discussed and that it appeared to be encouraging kids to cross the road dangerously. Today I noticed that the bus stop has now been moved in front of the island. 
  • We also mentioned that residents using walking frames were finding the new ramps onto Avalon Pde and Old Barrenjoey Rd too steep - and staff have said that they’ll see what they can do to fix them.
  • The schedule of work to December 13 includes removing the top layer of bitumen where it is too thick with an asphalt milling machine, so that the road has the planned profile. The three trucks were to work through Thursday night removing loads of bitumen to Rose Hill, where it is recycled. Another layer of coloured bitumen will then be laid on top of this milled surface, and a pattern stamped into it like paving. (The colour for the top layer of bitumen and pattern were previously chosen by Avalon Preservation Association.) The final pre-Christmas work will include installing chairs, tables, benches and potted plants in the pedestrian zone, along with bollards to define the roadway for vehicles.
  • Staff pointed out that it won’t be until the shared zone is finished that businesses will really see the benefits, especially cafes and restaurants, of the wider footpaths and new chairs and tables.
  • Councillors agreed that we could not leave Old Barrenjoey in the state it was in, given the possibility that it could cause flooding to businesses. Also that as long as nightwork really did not interfere with shops or cafes and restaurants, it would be better to finish the roadwork and install the planned furniture, if it could be done by December 13. 
  • On Avalon Pde, further seating outside cafes and restaurants will be created next year when work recommences, by moving the footpath out another lane’s width.
  • Staff agreed to improve communications with all concerned - the community, businesses and councillors. 
  • Trial evaluation will be carried out both on an ongoing basis and at its conclusion. Data from before the trial for traffic volumes and waiting times at intersections will be compared with later records. Staff plan to liaise with the community and businesses on an ongoing basis and later plan to hold a feedback forum.
  • We asked staff to keep work within the 10pm to 5am time frame that we had previously been told was planned, although work on Thursday night commences earlier to try and finish the milling in one night.
  • Staff said Sydney Water had told them that it would not carry out any further work in the village until the second half of next year.

The outcome: 

Work recommenced on Thursday night, with the milling machine breaking down the surface of the road near the library and starting on the southern side. This continued on Friday, and no work was planned for Saturday. 

Milling Machine

The workers explained how the milling machine works - there's a big drum, two metres wide underneath. They fit a band of metal teeth over it, that then gouges into the road surface. The long arm out the front directs the dug up asphalt  into the truck.

Close up: - you can here there's a little ledge that sticks out the side - they use that to set the level. Then they program how deep they want to go:


Another Great Surf Boat Season Underway: What's Happened So Far - What's Coming Up

Some of the 16 crew strong Palmy Army for the 2022-2023 Season, by January there may by 17 crews racing in all age divisions. Palm Beach SLSC won five gold medals in the recent National Short Course Championship & Mixed Crews Championship at Queenscliff, Peter Spence has plans to take a large contingent to this Season's ASRL Open and Aussies as well. Photo: A J Guesdon
Palm Beach SLSC winners at National Short Course Championship & Mixed Crews Championship at Queenscliff. Photo: Malcolm Trees
Local surf clubs surf boat divisions commenced their 2022-2023 Season with a SLS Sydney Northern Beaches Premiership carnival hosted by North Curl Curl SLSC on Saturday October 29th, followed up by another at Freshwater on November 12th and Newport on November 26th was the first and only Surf Boat Carnival to be hosted by a Pittwater club this Season. Bilgola SLSC's annual carnival will not run this year, nor will that hosted by Warriewood SLSC. 

Collaroy will host the Young Guns on January 8th, 2023, North Steyne a double on January 14th and 15th, part of the SLSSNB Premiership, with the final in this series being hosted by North Narrabeen on January 28th. The Branch Championships for Surf Boats will be at Collaroy this Season, running Saturday February 18th.

Newport Life Member Michael King and long term Sweep for Newport stated Newport's Carnival was another excellent club effort .

''The boaties, current and former, got stuck in early and had the setup and catering done well before time.'' Michael said

''A bit of cloud, cool southerly, and a bit of swell equals Newport on carnival day. A high tide at 10:30 also made it challenging on the edge for crews and starters. Matt Edwards, Peter Finch, Brendan Doyle and the rest of the team set the cans and then provided their usual excellent water safety for the event.

Our U23 girls, Nemos were 2nd, and the Open Men, Hellfish, in a special guest appearance, finished a credible third. Thanks again to all those who contributed to another successful Newport event.''

Newport Surf Club's Open Mens Hellfish and Under 23 Womens Nemos with sweeps Michael King and Rob Emerson

Newport Surf Club's Nemos in action at their annual carnival

Over three days, December 2nd to 4th, the National Trials Selection Event for the Trans Tasman 2023, to be held in New Zealand this time around, and National Short Course Championship & Mixed Crews Championship at Queenscliff.

Surf Life Saving New South Wales reports NSW crews took out 10 of the 12 events and saw two teams selected to represent Australia as a result.

The event, held in challenging but spectacular 4-6 foot surf, showcased the incredible surf sport and the strength of the specialist athletes who also competed in the Surf Life Saving Australia national team selections.

The short course event, first run in 2019 at the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast, had its time to shine. It was just the third time it’s been held with the half-course also opened to Reserve, Under 23 and Under 19 divisions this year.

The event differs from the traditional Surf Boat racing format whereby the crews race out and around a turning can and return to the beach with a distance of just 400m – half the distance of the traditional course – and takes the top crews around four minutes to complete.

In addition to the Short Course Championships, an exciting new mixed division was added to the lineup. For the first time, mixed crews were able to compete whereby two men and two women (and a sweep) could combine. Four divisions were contested – Open, Reserve, Under 23 and Under 19.

Australian Surf Boat Rowers League (ASRL) President, Nick Sampson said the league was working on outside-the-box ideas to progress the sport and increase participation.

“We’ve been working really hard on how to make the sport and competition more accessible to all clubs, especially the smaller ones. Adding the mixed divisions to the short course event was a success,” he said.

“We saw clubs enter who didn’t have enough men or women to field a full crew in the traditional divisions and that was the goal. Overall there was positive feedback from everyone, and the foreshore was packed with people watching.”

The sentiment was echoed by veteran Palm Beach sweep, Peter Spence.

“Personally, I see real potential in the mixed events. There are so many popping up now with various other sports so it’s really good to see how it can benefit our sport. It was a really enjoyable race,” he said.

Spence said the three days of racing was a great success and praised the ASRL and competition referee, Greg Heard.

“The team did a great job at running the event over the three days. They ran it to the conditions and it was a lot of fun,” he said.

“Anyone that raced, even if they didn’t make finals, had a smile on their face being able to be part of it.”



Inspirational English Channel Swimmer To Get Pittwater Ocean Swim Series Underway

Inspirational English Channel swimmer, Jonathan Wall, will be a guest starter of a couple of waves of the 2Kms ocean swims at the Newport Pool to Peak ocean swims on Sunday 8th of January. This signals the start of the Pittwater Ocean Swim Series which also includes Bilgola, Mona Vale, Whale Beach (The Big Swim) and Avalon.

Jon joined Mona Vale surf club in 2013 and completed his Bronze Medallion after his two boys joined Nippers. At age 43 he had no idea what this was going to lead to. After moving to Newport and joining the local club he started with two of the swimming groups, the Newport Leather Jackets and the Knackers.

A complete novice, he had never competed or trained as a swimmer before all this began.  “They would swim out to a buoy, affectionately known as “Kylie”, which was about 250m out to sea. I really had my doubts I would be able to make it to Kylie. However, I gradually mastered it and focused on trying to beat Dave Garnham who is an experienced Newport ocean swimmer”, said John.

His first ocean swim was at Bilgola in 2014 and it was an experience that taught him a big lesson. “It was a one and a half Kms swim and I hadn’t trained enough for the conditions. I reckon I nearly drowned and I vowed I would never put myself in that position again”.

Over the next few years, John competed in many of the northern and southern beaches ocean swims including Newport, The Whale Beach Big Swim, Coogee and Cronulla to improve his ocean swimming skills.

“In 2018, to improve my swimming, I went to stroke correction with Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame coach, Vlad Mravec. Vlad runs squad training at Andrew Boy Charlton Pool (ABC), Woolloomooloo, in Summer, and in Winter at Victoria Park Pool, near Sydney University. 

“By working with Vlad on my technique and meeting other long-distance swimmers, I decided to enter the Rottnest Channel Swim, an open water 29.7km swim from Cottesloe Beach in Western Australia to Rottnest Island. At this time, the longest swim I had completed was the Big Swim (2.7km)” 

“I started afternoon squad training with Vlad in 2018 and then graduated to the morning squads at 6am. I attend squad, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. At each squad session I swim a minimum of 5km. At the end of the season and at Christmas, we program a 100 x 100m set. It is common to swim a 10km set at ABC pool, Manly, on a Saturday if the ocean is unsuitable”.  

Jon’s dedication to training and technique should now be obvious to ocean swimmers of all levels. But as they say “wait there’s more”.

His Saturday ocean swims are usually 10-15km. For example; 2 x Shelly Beach to Freshwater baths return is 10km. In Summer he also swims laps of Manly Dam. Five full laps of Manly Dam total 15km. “We travel to Coogee and to Brighton Le Sands to swim long distances to help achieve our goals.''

“I aim to swim 30km per week, with two days off, Thursday and Sunday. I also try to do light weight sessions during the week”.

The Next Challenge – The English Channel!

After conquering so many challenges, he signed on to swim the English Channel in July 2022 after encouragement from Vlad.

''The English Channel is 33km long. My expected swimming time was 15hrs, but I took provisions for an 18hr swim’. That’s a long way from the days of trying to conquer, ”Kylie”, and very inspirational to ocean swimmers.

“To prepare for this, I swam the Palm Beach to Manly swim (24KM), the Derwent River Big Swim (Tasmania - 34km), and the Port to Pub Swim (Leighton Beach to Rottnest Island – 25km). As a result, I was the eighth person to be awarded the Australian Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming. I also continued to be coached by Vlad.

“In preparation for the English Channel, I completed two 8hr qualifying swims under 16 degrees, in Port Phillip Bay and at Brighton Le Sands. During the Channel swim, the swimmer is only permitted to wear goggles, one cap and swimming briefs. No timing devices are permitted. 

“I also completed ice baths and a full English Channel training program (30-45km of swimming per week, for 12 months prior to the event)” David added.

Jon quite modestly told us, “In July 2022, I successfully completed a crossing of the English Channel, in 13hrs, 14 mins”. 

My next goals are to swim from the Bowen Bridge in Hobart to Bruny Island (30KM), Palm Beach to Shelly Beach (24KM) and in 2024, I intend to swim another overseas Channel. By that time, I will be fifty-five.'' 

Jon’s Inspirational Message For Ocean Swimmers

''My message to anyone reading this is that you can set a goal, even if you are not sure how to complete it. It does not have to be extreme, like swimming the English Channel. Doing this will ensure you meet new friends, stretch your ability, mentally and physically, and have you doing things you did not think you were capable of. 

Set interim goals to keep motivated towards meeting a bigger goal. Be disciplined, be motivated and always be positive. We are capable of so much more than we think. If swimming is your thing, then pick an event and start training for it. You will never regret making an effort and as the saying goes, yet get out what you put in.''

Great advice from someone who has been there and done it …and is still going.

Jon will be a guest starter for a couple of the Newport Pool to Peak 2Kms waves on Sunday 8 January. And he will be swimming of course.

The Newport Pool to Peak is the first of the Pittwater Ocean Swim series followed by Bilgola on 15 January, Mona Vale 22nd and Palm Beach to Whale Beach (The Big Swim) on 29 January. The Avalon swims including the iconic Newport to Avalon Around the Bends swim will be held on 12 March.

You can enter the Newport swims now at Enter three of the swims and you could be on your way to Swim the Whitsundays over five days, thanks to OceanFit. (Prize is for one person who must be 18 or over).

Jon with son Robbie and wife Bec who were crew


Summer In Pittwater

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