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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Port Stephens museum plan a step closer

A push to develop a regional museum and interpretive centre in Port Stephens has taken a step forward, with the group leading the charge outing their preferred site.

Fly Point Nelson Bay has been named as the Tomaree Museum Association’s favoured location for a Port Stephens Cultural Centre.

The group, headed by chairman Ian Farnsworth, has unanimously agreed the location would allow a “magnificent integrated community venue”.

“Fly Point stands out because of its accessibility, heritage and environmental value, location, and stakeholder synergies,” Mr Farnsworth said.

“It’s beautiful location, centrality, better options for management of risks and ability to build on established community facilities makes it ideal.”

Fly Point is a crown land site managed by Port Stephens Council, located between Nelson Bay and Little Beach.

Mr Farnsworth and his ten-member committee are quick to point out that other options are still being considered.

“Fly Point was one of the locations on our early-stage list of 10 or 12 candidate sites; however Neil Carroll Rotary Park, which is an integral part of this site, was withdrawn as an option in response to feedback from local residents and the Rotary Club of Nelson Bay,” he said.

“The formal selection process to decide between the remaining candidate sites will form part of a Concept Study we hope to undertake later this year and community consultation is a vital part of the process of site selection.

“We need to consider a wide range of opinions in making our choices.”

Cultural significance will also remain at the group’s forefront too.

“We have consulted with Worimi representatives at every opportunity and plan for a significant indigenous contribution in our storytelling and displays,” Mr Farnsworth said.

“An indigenous artefact cabinet is part of the Tomaree Museum pop-up display currently in the Nelson Bay Visitor Information Centre.”

The Tomaree Museum Project is a plan to ‘develop a regional museum and interpretative centre to document, protect and promote the history and changing natural environment of Port Stephens’. 

“We aim to create a cultural centre that brings together important elements of our community story including its history, art, the environment and the people of the peninsula,” Mr Farnsworth said. 

“We want the museum to be a living, vibrant part of the community providing jobs, educational and cultural resources, and opportunities for local people across a wide spectrum. 

“This is why it is so important to consult with local communities and gain their support in our efforts to secure necessary funding from Local, State and Federal Government.”

Port Stephens was once home to the world’s largest oyster farm, the training ground for 20,000 American and Australian soldiers under General MacArthur, and the site of Bert Hinkler’s crash landing.

Its historical richness is the driving force behind Tomaree Museum Association’s push to establish a cultural base within the coastal town.

“We have mini museums but nothing that draws the history together under the one roof,” Mr Farsnworth said.

“We want to capture the whole lot in the one place.

“In 2021 we aim to get our project ‘shovel ready’ with a mature project concept and preferred site endorsed by Port Stephens Council.”

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