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Macquarie Pier tour named in Heritage Awards

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It sits at the sailor’s entrance to Newcastle, a 900-metre path providing public access to the heritage-listed Nobbys-Whibayganba headland. 

It joins two of the city’s most iconic landmarks – Nobbys Beach and Newcastle Breakwater. 

And, now, Macquarie Pier is in the running for its own heritage honour. 

The harbourside walk has been named a finalist in the Education and Interpretation category of the 2023 National Trust NSW Heritage Awards, in recognition of its free audio tour. 

The self-guided tour was part of a $3 million upgrade to the precinct, headed by Port Authority of NSW, in 2020. 

The signage project was officially launched 6 March 2022

The National Trust annual awards recognise excellence in conservation, protection, and interpretation of Aboriginal, built, natural and cultural heritage.  

Port Authority of NSW CEO Philip Holliday said it was an honour to be recognised within the list of entries. 

“Port Authority owns and operates the iconic Macquarie Pier and Nobbys Headland Lighthouse Precinct, so one of our key objectives was to work out how to protect and share the many important historical facts and cultural stories associated with this important area as part of our restoration project,” he said.  

“There’s so much to share – from prehistoric volcanic activity 300 million years ago that created Nobbys-Whibaygamba Headland, to the area’s significance to the Awabakal and Worimi as Traditional Owners of the land and sea, to Macquarie Pier’s role in Newcastle’s maritime history, and the shelling of Newcastle by a Japanese submarine during World War II – right up to today, where this site remains an important social, economic and cultural place for the people of Newcastle.  

“To complement the major heritage works, our solution was to develop a series of ten educational interpretative signs along the walkway, and to add a free immersive self-guided audio tour while complementing this with a visual video guide as well.”  

Macquarie Pier audio tour.

Accessible through QR codes installed along the pier, people can listen, read or watch as they stroll along the Pier towards Nobbys Whibaygamba Headland and at the same time, take a journey back through time.  

“A key challenge was collating the extensive research of key local historians and the community relating to the vast heritage and cultural significance of this site as part the story of Newcastle,” Mr Holliday added.  

“We know thousands of locals and visitors use the popular walkway each year and we hope we have provided something here for everyone, from the very young to the history buff.”  

The interpretation and heritage signage project complemented Port Authority’s $1.85 million multistage restoration, improvement, and interpretation revitalisation project at Macquarie Pier, which included reconstructing a new wider pathway with continuous sandstone seating, maritime style handrail, upgraded lighting and a new activation area for community events.  

The National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards will be held on Friday 12 May 2023 at Doltone House in Pyrmont.

The Macquarie Pier Revitalisation Project was completed by Port Authority with contributions from NSW Government Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund (NPCCF) and Port of Newcastle. 

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