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Tomaree Lodge

The Shoal Bay Community Association has proposed that a trust, The Tomaree Headland Reserve Trust, be established under the Crown Lands Act 1989 to manage the Tomaree Lodge precinct to ensure it is under permanent public ownership and that the public has access to the headland. The proposal means that any future use of the land would be determined by the trust board and manager.


“We’re worried that the precinct might be sold off to the highest

bidder and developed in a way that is out of character with Shoal

Bay and not in the interests of the community or visitors,”chairman

Tim Mehargsaid. “The first step would be to appoint a manager

who might consider a range of options that might include a

maritime information centre or an Aboriginal cultural centre,” he

said.  A four-person delegation from SBCA put the plan to the

Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka at a Sydney meeting

in May. There, he told the association that his priority was the

smooth transition of residents to group homes. As to the future

use of the land, he has told the association that the state

government would first consult with the community.

Front page article in the Port Stephens Examiner, 3rd November 2016



Update September 2017

The Shoal Bay Community Association has requested a meeting with the Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP NSW Minister for the Environment, Local Government and Heritage to discuss the future of the Headland.


Tomaree Headland Proposal



PROPOSAL:           To establish a Reserve Trust to manage the Tomaree Lodge precinct.




  • To enter into and maintain a Lease for the use and management of Tomaree Lodge and surrounds to ensure permanent public ownership of and access to the Tomaree Headland for the benefit of the Port Stephens community and visitors.


  • To upgrade and expand where necessary the buildings, structure and facilities forming part of the headland to provide income earning opportunities leading to financial self-sufficiency.


  • To manage the preservation and maintenance of structures of historical and heritage significance, and of the surrounding natural environment and parkland.



Tomaree Lodge is a State-run disability care facility located on the Shoal Bay Peninsula on Crown Lands accommodating up to 60 residents.


It is on one of the most visually attractive and unspoiled parts on the NSW coast, with breathtaking views of the harbour entrance.


The NSW Government has decided to close the facility, referred to as one of the Hunter Large Residential Centres (HLCs), and rehouse the residents into group homes by 2018. It has given no indication about plans for the site’s future.



Port Stephens including Tomaree Headland is part of the traditional country of the Worimi Aboriginal people, who have lived in the area for thousands of years, and have a special connection with the landscape, plants and animals.


The Tomaree Lodge site was part of a garrison established on Tomaree Headland during World War II to defend the entrance to the port and to provide for amphibious training for U.S. and Australian soldiers. On the site were barracks, messes and recreation rooms for gunners and soldiers manning the observation post, signal station and radar station at the summit of Tomaree Head, and the concrete gun emplacements and battery command posts built in 1941 half way up the headland.


At the end of the war the structures at the base of Tomaree Head became an army hospital and in 1947 were transferred to the NSW Department of Public Health for the establishment of Tomaree Lodge, a facility for intellectually disabled people. Over the years buildings have been added to the original war-time structures, all of which have been modernised.



As the NSW Government has given no indication about plans for the site it is a matter of urgent necessity that the community act ensure it has a say before any action is taken that might be inimical to community interests.


The call is for the Government to ensure the land remain in public hands. The most appropriate model for this is the establishment of a reserve trust: “The Tomaree Headland Trust”.


A reserve trust is a corporation established under the Crown Lands Act 1989 to manage a Crown reserve. It is not a branch of a department of government. The trust is responsible - under the oversight of the Minister - for the care, control and management of a specific Crown reserve. Reserve trusts are not conducted for private profit.


Trusts can be managed by:

  • corporate managers either a community/local organization, or a council, or a

   Ministerial corporation.

  • a community Trust Board, or

  • an administrator when special skills are required


A reserve trust enjoys a level of autonomy in its care, control and management of the Crown reserve. This includes entering into maintenance contracts, determining the development of the land (subject to Crown consent), setting entry fees, and employing people to work for it.


The Department of Primary Industries - Lands (the Department) provides each trust with operational support, financial assistance and guidance. By working together, the Department and the community are able to:

  • recognise and conserve the special values of Crown reserves;

  • ensure that all appreciate and enjoy these values;

  • protect reserves for future generations; and

  • expand the reserves to meet community needs.


If the State Government established a Reserve Trust the first step for the Trust would be to produce a Plan of Management.



The Shoal Bay Community Association believes the historic and visually spectacular Tomaree Headland should be kept in public ownership for the benefit of the Port Stephens community and visitors. The best way to do this is to establish a reserve trust to manage Tomaree Lodge and its surrounds. No consideration about the future of Tomaree Lodge should be conducted without close consultation with the Port Stephens community.


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