March 10 - 16, 2024: Issue 617


Newport's Saved Littoral Rainforest At Hillside Road: New Bushcare Group Begins

Video by Bruce Walters with Danielle Bressington, July 2018

Littoral Rainforest at 85-62  Hillside Rd Newport.
A new bushcare group has started work on this land at last. 

The first day was on Saturday March 9, starting at 8.30, working for around three hours. 

Saved from subdivision after years of community opposition to its destruction, it was bought by Council and the NSW Government, following years of work by residents under Pittwater Council that was renewed in 2018 when the site was proposed for subdivision once more.

Council's Bush regeneration contractors have been working there for several months but there’s plenty for bushcarers to do as well. It adjoins Attunga Reserve to the north, adding to significant areas of bushland of great fauna value. 

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA) states it is delighted this land is at last being cared for. 

To get involved in helping out on this site, please email PNHA at: or visit:

''Come and have a look, and if you'd like to join the group, wear long pants and enclosed shoes. Tools and Morning Tea provided. '' PNHA said

Early in May 2018 residents contacted Pittwater Online News, separately, wondering why land then on the market (over 10 thousand square metres) could not be secured for the community to complete the Newport/Bilgola Crown to the Sea bush links. 

All of them were requesting the PON to 'do something about it'.

The initial meeting of residents and community groups at Mick's place.

Pittwater Online spoke to Artist Mick Glasheen, who had also been speaking about the same matter in 2017, and was renting a premises on the property at that time. 

Having spent time exploring Newport's 'Crown to the Sea' paths, which wend from one side of Bilgola to Newport through the green pockets of Newport and Bilgola reserves, the potential to realise a 'connecting completion of this loop' was envisioned by the residents and Mick.

The land includes significant Littoral Rainforest which is listed as an Endangered Ecologically Community (EEC) under NSW Legislation and Critically Endangered under Commonwealth Legislation. It is adjacent to the public bushland areas called the 'Crown to the Sea', making it a corridor extension to other important habitat and biodiversity rich areas.

Pittwater Online subsequently contacted Newport Residents Association President Gavin Butler, Marita Macrae, President of the Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA), Neil Evers of the Aboriginal support Group, Manly, Warringah, Pittwater and arranged, with Mick as host, an informal morning tea on site so all the people who had spoken about the same thing separately together so they could speak about it as one. The news service also informed MP for Pittwater Rob Stokes about the community's aspiration to secure this land.

These individuals and groups, took it from there - arranging to make a great video (by Bruce Walters with Danielle Bressington), launched an online petition (via PNHA) and liaised with their members (Gavin of Newport Residents and Neil Evers of ASPMWP, PNHA members) Councillors and Council as well as former Pittwater MP Rob Stokes to get this one over the line.

Former Councillors Alex McTaggart and now new Pittwater MP Rory Amon 'stepped up' in particular, speaking out at council meetings for the acquisition of this 2.56 acres of land.

There was lantana and other weeds on this land, which may need extra bushcare volunteer hands to help clear it, now that Council's contractors have completed the initial works.

Confirmation the land had been secured was announced by former Pittwater's MP, The Hon Rob Stokes, then NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces was released on Monday, March 11th, 2019, stating that more than 10,000 square metres of Littoral rainforest near Newport will be preserved as public open space thanks to a $4.6 million joint investment by the NSW Government and Northern Beaches Council.

Member for Pittwater and Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the acquisition will ensure the pristine ecological area is preserved for the next generation.

“Our government is committed to ensuring the people of NSW have access to great public open space,” Mr Stokes said.

“Protecting the environment is a huge priority for the Northern Beaches community, so I am delighted we have been able to preserve endangered rainforest, while protecting an important wildlife corridor and increasing green space in the Sydney basin.”

The Hon. Rob Stokes, former MP for Pittwater, at the Newport land in March 2019.

Then Mayor Michael Regan said the purchase was a huge win for the local community.

“Despite its high environmental value, this land on Hillside Road had been slated for sub-division and significant development, so it’s great we’ve been able to partner with the State government to save it and bring it into public hands,” Mayor Regan said.

“I’d like to thank the many community groups and individuals who fought to have this critical land saved and ensure this incredible outcome became a reality.”

The purchase, co-funded with Northern Beaches Council through the Greater Sydney Open Space Program, demonstrated the NSW Government’s priority to secure and improve green space across the State.

The site was transferred to the Northern Beaches Council for ongoing care and management.

The Council then ran a 'Have Your Say' consultation about the classification for the land; to classify the land as either 'operational' or 'community' land and give public notice of this proposed resolution.

As 'Community Land - for all, and for all time' had been the object of the community's campaign, even for years under Pittwater Council, the feedback and wondering why the council had broached a possibility of making the land 'operational' was responded to in no uncertain terms.

However, as Mick was tenant of 85 Hillcrest at the time, the council was required to undertake this process. For a variety of reasons, including site security, the council wanted to keep this tenancy in place. In order to maintain the tenancy, 85 Hillside Road would be classified 'Operational'.

Under the Local Government Act 1993, all land in Council’s ownership must be classified as either operational or community. Land, such as parks, reserves and other open space is classified as 'community', which means that it is set aside for community uses for the public.

Some land, such as Council depots and land that is being used as an investment, is classified as 'operational' which means it can be used for a broader number of purposes.

The land was formally acquired on 24 June 2021. As three months had passed since acquisition, the classification of the land at 85 Hillside Road (Lot 2 DP 1036400) and 62 Hillside Road, Newport (Lot 1 DP 408800) defaulted to a community classification in accordance with S31(2A) of the Local Government Act.

The land was to be rezoned to a zoning that respects the bushland conservation and public ownership of the land. 

A Plan of Management (PoM) was due to be prepared for the site following the transfer of the land from the State Government to Council.

This PoM will include the Land Transfer Agreement signed by the State Government and Northern Beaches Council, which mandates that the majority of the land will be used for public recreation and cannot be sold to a third party. Under the Land Transfer Agreement, which had to be signed by Council before DPIE transferred the land, the land cannot be sold or subdivided and at least 80% of the land must be retained as open space.

The PON's first report (May 2018) shared:

The Newport Bushlink, 'From the Crown to the Sea' comprises the Attunga Reserve, Kanimbla Reserve, the Porters Reserve and the Crown of Newport (McMahon's Creek) Reserve at the end of Hillside road. The work to restore these and create an interlinked walkable route was commenced in 1994 by just four Newport Residents.

The reserves allow walkers to revel in glorious Newport vistas, be among Coastal Heathland landscapes as well as Littoral Rainforest and green lit creeklines. They also provide vital fauna habitat and connection pathways.

The site now on the market is approximately 1.06 ha in size, and includes 0.84 ha of native vegetation (Littoral Rainforest) and 0.22 ha of Urban Native/Exotic Vegetation. The majority of the land consists of rainforest associated species, including Cabbage Tree Palms (Livistona australis), mesic tree species such as Lilly Pillys (Acmena smithii) and Pittosporum sp., ferns; such as the Rough tree fern (Cyathea australis), vines and twiners such as Cissus sp. and sparse tussock grasses such as Lomandra sp. 

Other species such as Banksia integrifolia (Coastal Banksia), Ficus rubiginosa (Port Jackson Fig), Eucalyptus botryoides (Bangalay), and Allocasuarina littoralis (Forest Oak) occur less frequently in the canopy but have been recorded. Underneath the canopy a small tree layer is present, comprised predominately of Eupomatia laurina (Native Guava), Synoum glandulosum (Scentless Rosewood), Acmena smithii, and Pittosporum undulatum. The exotic tree species Erythrina x sykesii is present in the canopy in the southern half of the site.

A shrub layer is present in most areas dominated by Eupomatia laurina and Synoum glandulosum and juveniles of the trees Livistona australis and Pittosporum undulatum. Other shrubs species present with patchy occurrences include Wilkiea huegeliana (Veiny Wilkiea), Notelaea longifoliaPittosporum revolutum (Rough-fruited Pittosporum), and Elaeocarpus reticulatus (Blueberry Ash). Vines are common in the understorey and include the species Morinda jasminoides (Sweet Morinda), Smilax australis (Lawyer Vine), Geitonoplesium cymosum (Scrambling Lily). 

The ground level has ferns in most areas, the dominant species on site being Doodia aspera (Rasp Fern) and Blechnum cartilagineum (Gristle Fern), and others such as Adiantum aethiopicum (Maidenhair fern), Adiantum hispidulum (Rough Maidenhair Fern), and Calochlaena dubia (False Bracken Fern) occurring less frequently. Other herbaceous species such as Pseuderanthemum variabile (Pastel Flower), Lepidosperma elatius (Tall Sword-sedge), Schelhammera undulata (Lilac Lily), and the grasses Entolasia marginata (Margined Panic) and Oplismenus imbecillis (Creeping Beard Grass) have a scattered distribution in the ground layer. 

There has been, as it has been in many Reserves prior to bush regeneration, the encroachment of lantana. There are also patches of privet and other exotic weeds association with areas that have been disturbed by development or run off from adajcent sites.

A total of 73 native species and 68 exotic species were recorded on the site and its parts during previous and subsequent development applications. The overall abundance of native and exotic species varies across the land, with native species predominating.

The site slopes steeply from the north-western side to the south-eastern boundary. There is extensive sandstone outcropping and boulders on the upper slopes, wonderful outcrops through which rain would wend.

The site adjoins Attunga Reserve and an old path around its northern perimeter once led to and joined that behind Porter's. A gambol across from Attunga would allow hikers to enjoy the great views and breeze from the peak of the site before ambling along the road to the reserve through which McMahon's creek wends.

People who live adjacent to site report seeing a powerful owl nesting in a tree on the land and a chorus of birds can be heard, during the day, singing from its green understorey. No nocturnal count of animals (or fauna that moves at night) is available but that which frequents the reserves around the land range from ring-tail possums to reptiles to a wide range of resident or seasonally returning birds.

Sounds like a paradise because it is a paradise - and would certainly appeal to anyone who wants a lofty home within a quiet corner with a glorious view and pockets of cooling green flora and fauna around them.

As the land is currently on offer as a subdivision of six large blocks, the sales pitch being a potential 'gated community', and previous discussions to have this green space acquired have availed none, the April 2018 announced NSW Government’s $290 million Open Spaces and Green Sydney package, may be just one way (or potential option for some funding) to get everyone happy this time.

The view from the land saved for the public by former Pittwater's MP The Hon. Rob Stokes and the Northern Beaches Council.

Mick Glasheen at work at the Newport cottage in 2017

The view over Bilgola from Attunga - part of Newport's  'Crown to the Sea'.