WOULD the Bogey Hole and the former Newcastle bowling club site have been fenced off for as long as they have been were they in Sydney, rather than the Hunter?
That’s the question that Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp asked about the state government’s move to restore public access to both sites.
At the Bogey Hole, as much as $491,000 has been allocated from a public reserves management fund to stabilise the cliff face above the popular convict-hewn swimming hole. People will be allowed back in once the work is finished, either late this year or early next year. At the bowling club site, public access will be restored to the two former bowling greens and an adjacent dirt-covered car-park, but fences will remain in some places to preserve public safety.
Although a vocal Friends of King Edward Park group is determined to ensure nothing else is built on the bowling club site, there are others – perhaps some of the many new residents moving into the city – who would appreciate some form of food or drink premises at the edge of the park, as was the case for more than a century with the bowling club.
Merewether Surfhouse was howled down by a range of interests when plans to replace the dilapidated original Surf House were first mooted, yet now it is one of Newcastle’s most popular eateries.
With the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council having put a state land claim over the bowling club land, and with the developer, Keith Stronach, still apparently interested in building on the site, a new project, under land council ownership, could even eventuate. Given the potential possibilities, it is little wonder that Lands and Water Minister Niall Blair was unable to say for sure what would happen there. Which brings us to Mr Crakanthorp’s question about the time taken to settle these matters.
The important thing, as far as the Bogey Hole is concerned, is to ensure that this round of works stabilises the cliff face – if not for once and for all – for at least the foreseeable future. By the government’s own timetable, this work, from calling tenders to completion, could take less than four months, which seems somewhat quick for such crucial work. Time will tell.
As to the bowling club site, nothing will be finalised until the fate of the Awabakal claim is known. And that, assuredly, is something entirely out of the government’s hands.