Friday, 2 October 2020

Naturespace construction about to commence

The Coal Point Public School - Naturespace and Community Hub project is about to start construction. Here’s an update from The CPPS Naturescape Team.

The education trail that forms almost half of the Naturescape project will soon be under construction. It is proudly funded by the NSW State Government.

The trail will be built around the periphery of the top field at the school. Our successful contractor is an expert in track design and construction and we’re excited to have his team start on site in the next couple of weeks. To date, the trees in the area (including on adjacent Council properties) have been assessed by an arborist and pruned as needed to provide a safe environment for users of the trail.

Be aware that access to the school from the Coal Point Ridge Track may be limited at times of construction. Please help the project by following signage and/or instructions of the contractor if passing through on your walk/run/ride.

The Naturespace component of the project adjacent to Rofe Street is still in the final stages of design. Jamie Russell from Metiri Consultants in Toronto is providing civil engineering services. His team has kindly provided more services than their contract states in support of this local community project. We’re hoping we can move quickly to have this second stage of the project in construction in the next couple of months, to meet the timing requirements of the grant.

Part of finalising the Naturespace design will be choosing play elements to be incorporated into the activity zones we’re creating. We’re hoping to involve the kids through their classes. Covid restrictions have limited our community outreach but there may also be opportunity for community feedback and participation in planting activities. Please stay tuned and send us a message if you’re interested in being involved.

Further updates, community consultation and other opportunities for involvement will be posted on the project Facebook page, Coal Point Primary School Naturespace & Community Hub.

Scouts have regrouped

Diane Bellette, our local Scouts coordinator is pleased to announce Carey Bay Scout Group now has two Scout leaders. We can now welcome Scouts into our group. Girls and boys 11 to 14 years old. Scouts provide young people with the opportunity to take part in a range of activities that teach important life skills. Scouts learn essential outdoor safety skills as well as participate in a variety of physical and intellectual challenges. Epic bushwalks and camping expeditions, getting out on the water in a kayak, canoe or sailboat or even going up in a plane are just some of the adventures Scouts get up to!

Our Cub section also has room for girls and boys 8 to 11 years old. Cubs focus on exploring the outdoors & living an active lifestyle in a safe and friendly environment. They are introduced to traditional Scouting skills such as tying knots and take part in outdoor adventures such as camping, rock climbing, abseiling, bushwalking, sailing, gliding and flying, canoeing, and billy-karting!

Joey Scouts is for boys and girls aged 5 - 8. The focus is on fun and friendship, and provides a gentle introduction to a world of challenges and adventures through Scouting. Joeys are encouraged to express themselves creatively, through games, stories and craft activities. From building monsters and spaceships from scrap items, to growing plants from seedlings and science experiments all Joeys develop a strong sense of belonging and an understanding of the world around them. Joeys learn how to socialise with other children and help other people.


“Operational” intrigue overides community needs at Bath Street?

Council considered a report at its meeting held Monday 28th September, on the outcome of the token and limited “community consultation” for the proposal to construct a boutique café on the Bath Street site. The report provided the outcomes of the survey along with a recommendation that Council formally proceed with the café proposal.

The café is certainly a far better proposal than the previously mooted six storey apartment building. It appears to be welcomed by the community and the Toronto Foreshore Protection Group (TFPG), with 77% of the 420 survey respondents being either supportive or very supportive of the proposal.

Concerns still exist, however, with this proposal, that things aren’t as good as it may initially appear for the desperately needed community parkland. Some 64 survey respondents picked this up and unprompted by the survey, raised the need to reclassify the land as Community. Following closure of the online survey, four TFPG representatives accepted an invitation from Council officers to attend a meeting.

This meeting was advised of the intention to keep the proposed site as Operational Land, which from a Council perspective, makes it primarily a commercial operation. This also means that at a later date the café could be sold and/or extended both in size and height. The reason given for this unusual approach was supposedly that it gives Council greater freedom in business negotiations, including longer term leases. The report also claims under “Economic Impacts” that it will allow the provision of businesses “not allowable on Community Land.”

Such an approach to management of this important site is questioned, as while the Local Government Act does have some limited controls on businesses conducted on parks to provide for community protection, they are not unduly onerous. The Act steps out the processes that permits long term leases, enabling Council to grant leases for up to 21 years (even 30 years can be granted subject to the consent of the Minister). Proposed leases on Community Land are often advertised in the classified section of newspapers and are common practice throughout the State including Lake Macquarie. Why not at Toronto?

During discussions with Council the comment was made by the Council representatives about the likely small return to Council of this current business proposal, which is starting to ring alarm bells for local residents. Most people don’t object to Council undertaking some property development to increase its revenue base. It is, however, of real concern when property and business development is allowed to predominate over Local Government’s primary responsibilities of providing facilities and services to the community. Council cannot just singularly treat this important waterfront site as a short-term money-making project. It needs to apply good planning to ensure an integrated outcome for Toronto, considering all the community’s needs with attractive urban design and function that encourages visitors and promotes economic development.

While most people would be happy with a modest café on the site there is a great need at the same time to acknowledge the recommendations of both State and Council planning guidelines, suggesting important public owned waterfront land be made community parkland. In September last year Council resolved to investigate the option of reclassification of all or part of the Bath Street site to Community Land and to date (one year later) there has been no formal response to this particular resolution.

Unfortunately, the vague building concept varies in detail from time to time regarding both the building size and actual business operations, with the Mayor referring to it during the meeting as a “restaurant.” Fortunately, Cr Wendy Harrison moved an amendment to establish a maximum size for the development and also requested the site be made Community Land. The motion was successful in firming up the maximum development size but the Community Land proposal did not have sufficient supporting numbers to be successful. There is evidence though that some Councillors are beginning to appreciate the importance of this public waterfront land being reclassified and fully integrated with the long-awaited Foreshore Master Plan for our park.

Can you help us get Matt Kean, keen to #CleanUpCoalAsh?

The Hunter Community Environment Centre’s (HCEC) new report Out of the Ashes II is being released early October and sets out clear policy pathways, that if adopted by the NSW Government will:

  • Stop the spread of harmful heavy metal pollution, impacting species and water quality in Lake Macquarie, the Upper Cox’s river and the Central Hunter Valley
  • See the beneficial reuse of coal-ash increase and boost the sustainable manufacturing sector in regional NSW
  • Make the full remediation and revegetation of these polluted sites possible.

Last year, our Environment and Energy Minster, Matt Kean appeared in NSW Parliament alongside Greg Piper MP spruiking coal-ash reuse, and the HCEC needs your help to hold him to his word.

You can join a COVID-safe gathering at the Coal Ash Inquiry Hearings Tuesday 6 October, 12:30pm outside the Lake Macquarie City Council Chambers to show your support to all those giving evidence at the second public hearing.

The public hearing will be live-streamed. 

Can you support the #CleanUpCoalAsh social media campaign with messages to the Minister Kean (@Matt_KeanMP), urging him to take action on coal-ash ?

What’s in a name?

The local landcare group have been exploring names for the bushland patches we care for on the West Ridge and off Stansfield Close. Names provide for a connection to the history of the area and a sense of place and most of our reserves have aboriginal names.

Research by Robyn Gill resulted in naming Puntei (a narrow neck of land) Creek in 2005, which never had a name, and last year Killibinbin (shining water) Reserve the spacious grassy foreshore reserve, overlooking Kilaben Bay at the southern end of Laycock Street and Puntei Park, the grassy leash free area bordered by Hampton Street and Excelsior Parade, received their monikers.

We’d been tossing about a few names for our unnamed reserves; Kollai (timber, trees, wood), Keelkeelba (Grass tree place- they are spectacular at the moment on the West Ridge) and Weemilah (a good view) when Lisa McKendry did some extensive research and discovered the original name for what is now Coal Point.

Tirabeenbah Mountain

In 1841 it seems Coal Point may have been known as Tirabeenbah Mountain.

Recently I was looking at an 1841 map of ‘Awaba or Lake Macquarie’, which can be found on the Hunter Living Histories website. It has local geological notes and Aboriginal place names marked. The Coal Point peninsula is clearly marked in ink ‘Tirabeenba’. (‘Ebenezer Colliery’ and ‘wharf’ are printed on the map). The article suggests that the written notes on the map may have been made by the Reverend W. B. Clarke, a geologist who visited our area in 1842.

Curious about this, I did a search and found another early reference to ‘Tirabeenbah Mountain’. In 1842 W. B. Clarke wrote an article for the Geological Society of London about the fossil pine forest in the area now called Fennell Bay. In describing ‘Awaaba’ and the peninsula, he says “very recently coal works have been opened about 4 feet above the level of the water in Tirabeenbah Mountain”. Also, a small map marks the peninsula as ‘Tirabeenba’. This document and others are available on the University of Wollongong website.

The Ebenezer Colliery mentioned above in the 1841 map was the source of the name Coal Point. This coal mine was owned by the Scottish Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld. In those early days, Reverend Threlkeld documented the local Awabakal language with his Aboriginal friend Biraban (his name means Eaglehawk). Threlkeld, in his book, ‘An Australian Grammar’ (1834) writes the names of places are generally descriptive, for example Tirabinba means the toothed place. In the ‘Common Places’ section of the book he writes “Ti-ra-bé-en-ba - A long point of land tooth like; from Ti-ra, a tooth.”

There is also good evidence that early names for the Toronto/Coal Point Ebenezer Estate, belonging to Threlkeld, were Derahbambah, which means rising ground, and Punte which means a narrow piece of land, as outlined in the book “Reid’s Mistake”(1967) by K.R. Clouten.

Perhaps, others may be able to enlighten the Punte/Tirabeenbah/Coal Point Chronicle with some naming suggestions?

More interesting local history

Locals Living Life

There are some amazing people within our community doing wonderful things for the greater good as well as supporting local initiatives.

Here are what two locals are getting up to.If you’d like to share your story please get in touch.

Knitting, Tatting and Nervous Breakdowns

Alison Bryson is currently involved with the CPPA exploring how we can create
‘green-space communities’ and has just published Knitting, Tatting and Nervous Breakdowns. Alison explained “Given the topic and the current situation of more people experiencing anxiety as a result of Covid-19, I’m keen to share this lived experience with others.”
“You’ve no idea what’s happening to you, have you?” the doctor asked.
She was right.

In 2010 Alison Bryson had a nervous breakdown. She didn’t know people who had breakdowns. She didn’t know what to do with herself being unable to work. She didn’t know if she would recover and be able to live independently again. She just didn’t know.

This is her story of not recognising herself or the mind that she’d known for forty years, of being looked after by her parents in the Scottish village where she grew up and of the people and activities she encountered, that brought joy back into her life.

The book is available through all major outlets as paperback or e-book; Amazon, Book Depository, Angus & Robertson, Fishpond, Booktopia

The Great Cycle Challenge

Nico Marcar is an active landcarer and advocates for better cycling across the City through LMCC’s Active Transport Advisory Group and Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance. This October, he’s taking part in the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer!

Nico’s reasons for participating are clear.

“Research is vital to support cancer prevention and treatment. This 
requires funding.

Cancer is the largest single killer of children from disease in Australia.

Kids should be living life, not fighting for it.

And so I am riding and raising funds to support the Children’s Medical Research Institute to continue their work into the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and finding a cure for childhood cancer.

I’ve set myself a goal of 500 km.

Your support through donations to my fundraising page will help to give these kids the brighter futures they deserve.”

DAs In Play to 1/10/20

The CPPA endeavours to provide a summary of active applications in our area as outlined in the table.

Please consult LMCC’s website for a full listing:
  • DA=Development Application
  • BC= Building Information Certificate
  • TA=Tree Assessment
  • CC=Construction Certificate,
  • CDC= Complying Development Certificate,
  • REF= Review Environmental Factors
  • SC=Subdivision Certificate.

Walk Safely to School Day was a great success on Sept 11.

What a way to start the day! The walking bus was full on Walk Safely to School Day. The Carey Bay route proved to be popular with 14 children, 11 adults and 2 dogs on board. The children enjoyed the nature trek, walking, running and chattering along the way. The parents enjoyed the safety, the scenery and the chance to be social as well. The dogs were very happy and well behaved on leashes.

The route worked well with people joining the bus at Laycock St, at Whitelocke Street, happy friends very excited about seeing each other.

Everyone arrived safely and happily at school, there was only one trip on the last steep slope, where the track narrows and the tree roots are exposed, but like a true adventurer the happy traveller jumped up and journeyed on.

The parents are keen to make this a regular Friday event and the Coal Point Parents facebook group will be used to plan and share the info.

Congrats everyone on giving it a go it’s a big step forward in making our community more resilient, friendly and safer.