June 5 - 11, 2011: Issue 9 

Currawong Day

1000 people attended the celebration of Australia’s newest State Park at Currawong Beach on Sunday 29th of May, 2011. The day was filled with showers, rainbows, sunshine, a kookaburra watching the proceedings from the Jacaranda tree outside Midholme and other omens of blessing and success. In the lines waiting patiently to catch ferries a sense of bonhomie. On the ferries strangers greeted each other and shared stories as though they had all been going to this place for years together like this. The excitement and happiness created a party atmosphere that lasted all day.

Community Group The Friends of Currawong are who began and led the charge to save this place. They did not cease or desist in their efforts until the job was done. Robert Stokes did more then most are aware of and worked tirelessly to ensure Currawong remained a haven that is inclusive for all rather then exclusive (to exclude). He was there at the beginning, did all he could to ensure the issue stayed alive through the years it took to win back the People’s Park, and he was there at the end. Pittwater’s Mayor, Harvey Rose, who lead the Friends of Currawong before having to step down due to his new role, and Mark Ferguson, General Manager at Pittwater Council, brought the considerable knowledge, energy and integrity of what a Council should be to bear on each new phase of the strange waltz one Developer after another tried to impose on them and us. The Labour government’s Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, which gives one Minister the ‘yay or nay’ also makes Kristina Keneally, when she was Planning Minister, the key turning point. Once Ms Keneally Heritage Listed Currawong any proposed ‘development’ of the site would be restricted. Those who hold money to be worth more then what is obviously and naturally truly worth anything knew the shifty sands they stood on were not going to be our pristine site for too much longer.

Our quote of the week is 'With patience and persistence we will prevail'. This is how Shane Withington signed off all Newsletters from the Friends of Currawong during the long battle to save the historic site of Currawong Beach and Family Park from Developers. On Sunday this became 'With patience and persistence we have prevailed'. We list here extracts from those speeches we did hear and apologise to those we did not record due to not being on one of the first ferries over. We have sought comments from those we missed and these, as provided, are listed below the extracts.

Extracts from Speeches:

Shane Withington:
"Michael Mannington thank you for all the photography, Harvey Rose, former leader of the Friends of Currawong. Most community groups wont get council support. They were with us from day one. I’d also like to thank every single person who made a phone call, or wrote a letter, without you we wouldn’t be standing here today.

(As visitors ) you will see open spaces and experience peace. What you won’t see is five McMansions along the waterfront. What you will see, 40 years from now, is children being able to jump off that wharf into the water, and families being able to come here to experience this pristine environment."

Shane concluded his oration by presenting a cheque of donations by members of the community to Bill Rooney of the Pittwater Environmental Foundation "for the Restoration of this beautiful site".

Mayor Harvey Rose:
"Welcome here, on behalf of Council, to this great historic day for Pittwater and for all the people of NSW. It is great that we are here to celebrate a win by the people over the forces who would have taken away that which is the peoples. We leave to our children and grandchildren and even when they’re gone, to the future of this area, a marvellous legacy. It is not, as Shane said, a private enclave, it is not a private sub-division. It is the people’s place. It is somewhere that anyone can come. Anyone can interact with Nature, with the heritage and be uplifted.

I’d like to thank the Friends of Currawong, that marvellous group that have given of their time and efforts to help achieve this outcome. I’d like to thank Rob Stokes. Rob has done everything possible to make sure this occurred. I’d like to thank Bronwyn Bishop who did everything she could anywhere she could and certainly done her bit. Pittwater Council has been solid in the last 15 years and when the window of opportunity came, as it did in the last six months, we had the expertise, we had the knowledge, we had the background to be able to see that through. So, put all those things together, I’ve been in a lot of community campaigns but if you put those three things together; a strong and active community group, faithful members who care and interact and are part of a whole team, and a Council that knows what it’s doing and, again, is willing to be part of a team, combine that with a community that is really proud of its heritage and will fight to keep the things it needs; our hospital, Currawong, and whatever else it takes, put those things together and you can get a win. And that’s what we have ladies and gentlemen. We have had a win, a win for our community, a win for NSW, a win for all the people. That’s what we’ve had.

So , thanks to you all. Thanks firstly to the Friends of Currawong, for their love and heart and solid fight. To the Friends of Currawong’: (Crowd hip hip, hooree)
To the donors, I have never heard of such a donation, 1.4m; (cheers)
To all the politicians, particularly Rob, and to Bronwyn for helping where she could;
For our Council, which has been solid and has done all it could all along the way;
And to the Department of Lands and other politicians
(laughter from crowd but also cheers)
And to the people of Pittwater: (cheers)
We’re now going to cut the cake ladies and gentlemen, please share it with us."

Shane(On Rob Stokes while cake was being cut); "One day at Parramatta, when we had to fight the Heritage Office, I turned up at dawn and at 8 o’clock, in the pouring rain, middle of winter and cold, I was looking for a cup of coffee, and I walked around the corner and of course, there was Rob Stokes, who’d spent all night sleeping on a couch in his Parliamentary Office and was there at 8 o’clock in the morning to go and fight for Currawong. If you want to have a look at what Rob did for Currawong, go and look at Hansart, at his beautiful eloquent speeches, and then you’ll see what Rob did for Currawong. So thanks Rob for your wonderful work!"

Sample: here


Currawong has been a great success story for the Council. Not only does it give this important site back to the people of Pittwater, it also opens up Currawong to the wider public in terms of a wonderful low-key holiday destination.
Cr. Bob Grace.

“It was a fabulous day of celebration.  It has taken years, indeed it has been years since Shane Withington, President of the Friends of Currawong, came to me so we could work together to stop the sale and monstrous development of Currawong.  Rob Stokes also took up the fight and did a fantastic job, as did the council which remained committed to stop the unwanted development.”
Hon. Bronwyn Bishop MP, Federal Member for Mackellar

“We exist only to raise funds and awareness for Pittwater’s natural and cultural heritage, and to enhance the natural environment for the benefit of all Pittwater residents and visitors.  It is hoped that exposure of the PEF through large donations such as this would encourage others in the community to also contribute to worthwhile environmental and heritage improvements within Pittwater.  A significant advantage of donating funds through the PEF is that the donor can receive the benefit of tax deductibility.  We provide a DGR receipt for all donations, which is acceptable to the tax office as proof of tax deductibility.”
Bill Rooney, Chairman of Pittwater Environmental Foundation
Further Reading and Public Record Files:

Currawong Day Pictorial

Currawong: http://www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/07_subnav_04_2.cfm?itemid=5054664

Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act:

Pittwater Council’s 30th of May Press Release on Currawong Day

Pittwater Environmental Foundation: http://www.pittwaterenvironmentalfoundation.org.au/?page_id=5

Shane Withington Profile: here

FOC submission for second DA 27.10.10 (1).pdf FOC submission for second DA 27.10.10 (1).pdf
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Above: Cr.David James (left), Jo Holder, Marie Goonan, David Haythornthwaite. 

Below: Robert Stokes, MP and Mayor Harvey Rose. Images copyright Mike O'Flynn. All Rights Reserved Volunteer Photography.

Above: Maddie, Shane and Anne. Right: Shane, Hon. B. Bishop and Mayor H. Rose. Both images copyright Michael Mannington. All Rights Reserved by Volunteer Photography. 

Report by A J Guesdon, Pittwater Online News, 2011.