Peter Clough believes a ferry and cruise service to the Tomaree Headland would effectively showcase the region’s spectacular waterways.
As president of the Tomaree Headland Heritage Group, Mr Clough is urging the community to join him in supporting the introduction of public transport to access what he says has the potential to be a nationally significant visitor attraction.
Citing concerns with current visitor parking, traffic management and coach access, Mr Clough says arriving to the area via its waterways is a logical solution.
“We believe there is a strong case for the reinstatement of the jetty, with a pontoon, previously sited on the Tomaree Headland foreshore,” he said.
“Approximately 200,000 plus people visit the Tomaree Headland every year.
“Ferry and cruise services to the headland has the potential to provide a significant new tourism product for Port Stephens, particularly if a more extensive service is offered to link the various existing jetty facilities at Nelson Bay, Bannisters, Soldiers Point Marina, and even Lemon Tree.”
In 2018, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) was awarded $6.7 million from the NSW Government to create a world-class coastal walk and supporting facilities in the Tomaree National Park.
The funding will extend the 20-kilometre walk from Tomaree Headland to Birubi Point.
The improvements are expected to be completed by 2022, with tourism bodies hoping it will boost the regional visitor economy, cementing its reputation as a nature-based walking destination.
“As a group our focus is at the headland, where the walk starts,” Mr Clough said.
“We believe the reinstatement of the jetty on the Tomaree Headland foreshore should be particularly embraced in the Tomaree Coastal Walk Master Plan as a public transport option.
“We are totally supportive of the proposed Tomaree Coastal Walk and note their master plan includes a section of their walkway which will connect with the original jetty site.”
Mr Clough says existing infrastructure and community consultation hinted at the success of the redevelopment.
“There was a jetty there,” Mr Clough said. “It was pulled down somewhere, we believe, between 2007 and 2014.
“My understanding is that it was dilapidated and cost too much to maintain.
“It’s already there though, right on the Tomaree Lodge foreshore, and we know the water is deep enough because it’s been used as a jetty before, so let’s upgrade it.
“Local cruise providers agree.”
The reconstruction, Mr Clough estimates, would cost approximately $500,000 but came with unlimited potential.
“Imagine arriving by ferry or cruise to explore the area that eventually has cafes, boutique accommodation, a function centre, museum, and a Marine Research Centre,” he said.
For more information, contact Tomaree Headland Heritage Group on Facebook.