Rathmines Park

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Let's see history up close at Rathmines Park.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this consultation. The draft Rathmines Park Master Plan will be presented to Council for adoption on Monday 12 October.

Over the last 12 months you have helped us prepare a draft Plan of Management and Master Plan for Rathmines Park to guide its future use and development.

The draft Plan of Management outlines the management directions for the park which are interpreted spatially through the draft Master Plan.

Together with the Rathmines Park Conservation Management Plan, the draft Plan of Management creates a platform for the continued celebration of Rathmines Park’s unique history, as well as delivering modern facilities and enabling activities that can meet long-term community needs.

The draft plans build upon the values and vision you have identified for the park and include proposals for a youth hub incorporating a new skate park and pump/BMX track, upgraded children’s play area and outdoor gym equipment.

Now is the time to review both draft documents and provide any further feedback you may have by completing the survey or by uploading a written submission.

Public Hearing

The Rathmines Park Plan of Management proposes to change some existing land categories within the park.

In accordance with the Local Government Act 1993, Council is required to host an independently-chaired public hearing to seek community feedback on the re-categorisation. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions this will be conducted online. Please note: the public hearing is specifically to provide feedback on the re-categorisation of land.

Draft Plan of Management

Draft Master Plan

This consultation closes on Friday 7 August 2020.

The image used on previous correspondence was courtesy of John Sharples.

Let's see history up close at Rathmines Park.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this consultation. The draft Rathmines Park Master Plan will be presented to Council for adoption on Monday 12 October.

Over the last 12 months you have helped us prepare a draft Plan of Management and Master Plan for Rathmines Park to guide its future use and development.

The draft Plan of Management outlines the management directions for the park which are interpreted spatially through the draft Master Plan.

Together with the Rathmines Park Conservation Management Plan, the draft Plan of Management creates a platform for the continued celebration of Rathmines Park’s unique history, as well as delivering modern facilities and enabling activities that can meet long-term community needs.

The draft plans build upon the values and vision you have identified for the park and include proposals for a youth hub incorporating a new skate park and pump/BMX track, upgraded children’s play area and outdoor gym equipment.

Now is the time to review both draft documents and provide any further feedback you may have by completing the survey or by uploading a written submission.

Public Hearing

The Rathmines Park Plan of Management proposes to change some existing land categories within the park.

In accordance with the Local Government Act 1993, Council is required to host an independently-chaired public hearing to seek community feedback on the re-categorisation. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions this will be conducted online. Please note: the public hearing is specifically to provide feedback on the re-categorisation of land.

Draft Plan of Management

Draft Master Plan

This consultation closes on Friday 7 August 2020.

The image used on previous correspondence was courtesy of John Sharples.

  • Rathmines Park Master Plan on public exhibition

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    23 Jun 2020
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    Enhanced opportunities for sport and recreation – including a new skate park and outdoor gym equipment – will be central to a draft Rathmines Park Master Plan now on public exhibition.

    The draft Master Plan and separate Plan of Management set out the future of the historically significant site, which was a key seaplane base during World War II.

    Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Assets Management Brendan Callander said the aim was to increase the park’s attraction and broaden its use, without compromising its heritage value.

    “The two draft plans will enhance the community’s opportunities for sport and recreation,” he said.

    “But the measures they recommend also celebrate and commemorate this unique site’s important history.”

    Catalina long-range patrol bombers, along with other aircraft, flew from Rathmines during World War II, conducting coastal patrols in search of enemy raiders.

    The base closed in 1956, but many of its key features remain, including part of the north-east hangar, the former Sergeants Mess, the former Officers Mess and the base hospital.

    Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said Council had undertaken extensive community consultation to produce the draft documents.

    “We will continue to listen to the community throughout this exhibition period,” Cr Fraser said.

    “The result is set to be a suitably impressive public space that respects the past and embraces the future. This is one of Lake Mac’s landmark sites and we want to treat it accordingly.”

    A new Rathmines Park youth hub already funded by Council will include a skate park and pump/BMX track, an upgraded children’s playground, outdoor gym equipment and interpretive signs recognising the site’s history.

    Footpaths will be upgraded and extended throughout the park, connecting to upgraded amenities.

    The Rathmines Park Plan of Management proposes changing some existing land categories within the park.

    Mr Callander said that included re-categorising some areas from ‘Park” to ‘Natural Area Foreshore’ to reflect environmental objectives.

    “Given the site is now listed in the NSW State Heritage Register and its heritage significance is managed in accordance with the Rathmines Park Conservation Management Plan, it is also proposed to remove the ‘Cultural Significance’ category,” Mr Callander said.

    The draft plans are on public exhibition until Friday 7 August 2020 atshape.lakemac.com.au/rathmines-park.

  • Community feedback sought to help shape future of Rathmines Park

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    02 Mar 2020
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    Major improvements and new features across the entire Rathmines Park precinct are central to draft Lake Macquarie City Council concept master plans for the site, now on public exhibition.

    The plans, available online at shape.lakemac.com.au/Rathmines-park, include the former RAAF seaplane base and its surviving buildings, as well as sports grounds, parkland, playgrounds and the lake foreshore.

    Recreation and Land Planning Coordinator Stephen Prince said Council was moving into its second phase of development for a Master Plan and Plan of Management for Rathmines Park.

    “Last year we engaged the community to find out how they used the park, and to get their ideas about how we could improve the space into the future,” Mr Prince said.

    “The outcomes from those engagement activities, as well as recommendations from our Conservation Management Plan adopted last year, have been used to inform the draft Concept Master Plans for the park.

    “I encourage the community to view the accompanying Issues and Opportunities Paper, which outlines ideas within the draft Master Concept Plans.”

    The draft concept plans include improvements to recreation and sports facilities, improved access, new landscaping and vegetation and enhanced interpretation of the site’s military and Aboriginal history.

    An expanded youth hub would include a “substantially improved” skate/pump track and multipurpose court, with an opportunity to host food vans and an event stage.

    Improved play facilities for children would include an interactive play space celebrating the area’s military and Aboriginal history.

    A learn to ride track for young cyclists, outdoor fitness equipment and improved picnic facilities would be among the new features.

    The draft plans also include a number of larger, potentially more complex projects including reinstatement of overnight RV camping and a Catalina aircraft hangar.

    Mr Prince said the Concept Master Plans aimed to provide space for sporting, recreation and community group activities and events, while respecting, conserving and celebrating the site’s history and heritage.

    “We would love to hear from the community about what it thinks of these initial ideas. Your feedback will help inform our priorities in the draft Master Plan and Plan of Management,” Mr Prince said.

    Council will host two drop-in sessions on Thursday 5 March, with project staff on-site to provide further information and collect community feedback.

    The drop-in sessions will be at Rathmines shops at from 12-2pm and from 3-5pm at Rathmines Park.

    A community information session will follow, from 6-8pm at Catalina Conference Centre, Dorrington Rd. RSVPs for the session are essential.


  • New plans set to shape future of Rathmines Park

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    25 Feb 2020
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    A Master Plan and Plan of Management for Rathmines Park will guide the future use and development of the site and its historically significant former RAAF seaplane base.

    Lake Macquarie City Council Recreation and Land Planning Coordinator Stephen Prince said a community engagement program would help gain a better understanding of the issues and opportunities for the waterfront site.

    “The Master Plan and Plan of Management will follow on from a Conservation Management Plan adopted by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage earlier this year,” Mr Prince said.

    “We now want to know how the community uses Rathmines Park, and how they think it should be used and preserved into the future.”

    “Input we receive will help shape a vision that will enhance this important site’s heritage, community and recreational features.”

    Rathmines Park was once home to one of the most important RAAF seaplane bases on Australia’s east coast.

    Catalina long-range patrol bombers, along with other aircraft, flew from Rathmines during World War II, conducting coastal patrols in search of enemy raiders.

    The base closed in 1956, but many of its key features remain, including part of the north-east hangar, the former Sergeants Mess, the former Officers Mess and the base hospital.

    Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said parts of the site were listed on local and State heritage registers, reflecting their important role in Lake Macquarie’s history, and more specifically in the role the RAAF base played in development of the surrounding community.

    “Rathmines Park is regarded as the most intact seaplane base in Australia,” Cr Fraser said.

    “We want to ensure the master plan recognises and respects this important part of our nation’s military history, while continuing to provide opportunities for community use and recreation.”

    Feedback can be provided online at shape.lakemac.com.au/rathmines-park, where visitors can complete a short survey and provide comments via an interactive map.

    Council will also host pop-up information and feedback sessions at Rathmines shops from 7-9am on Thursday 26 September, and from noon-2pm at Rathmines Park on the same day.

    A community workshop at the Catalina Conference Centre will follow, from 6-8pm. RSVPs for the evening workshop are required.

    Consultation for the Master Plan and Plan of Management is open until Friday 11 October.


  • Draft plan outlines “exceptional” heritage value of former RAAF site

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    27 Aug 2018
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    A former Catalina “flying boat” base in Lake Macquarie is a nationally significant site with “exceptional” historic value, according to a draft Lake Macquarie City Council Conservation Management Plan.

    Consultants Umwelt Australia were contracted by Council to assess the significance of Rathmines Park, which served as a RAAF seaplane base during World War II.

    Council acting Manager Community Planning Wes Hain said the resulting draft Conservation Management Plan was the first step in creating a future master plan for Rathmines Park.

    “Any future use of Rathmines Park must be mindful of the site’s heritage significance,” Mr Hain said.

    “The site has a fascinating and incredibly significant wartime history, which we wanted to fully understand before moving forward.

    “At its peak, this was Australia’s main seaplane base, responsible for launching airborne anti-submarine patrols right along the east coast.”

    The RAAF operated the base from the start of WWII in 1939 until 1961, with Catalinas and other aircraft moored just offshore.

    Others were hauled onto dry land for maintenance inside the site’s giant hangar.

    Mr Hain said Council and Umwelt had undertaken a number of stakeholder workshops and site visits over the past six months to document the history of the site.

    An assessment of heritage significance within the draft Conservation Management Plan concluded the base overall has historical significance on a national level, being “strongly representative” of Australia’s defence force activities during WWII.

    Rathmines was viewed as a “critical representative example” of a WWII flying boat base and the scale of the surviving elements made it an important benchmark for such sites.

    According to the draft Conservation Management Plan, 230 buildings were erected throughout the life of the base.

    Only 10 remain today.

    Part of the former hangar still survives and is now owned by the Christadelphian Bible School, while Council owns other buildings used for various purposes including a bowling club, scout hall, workshop, music centre and storage sheds.

    The site is also home to a RAAF Catalina memorial, opened in 1972 in dedication to all who served at the base.

    “Council will continue to ensure that any future community or commercial use does not negatively affect the interpretation or appreciation of this picturesque historical site,” Mr Hain said.

    “Now is the opportunity for the community to assist in providing copies of historic photos and documents associated with the former RAAF base.

    “Planning issues will be addressed through the preparation of a draft master plan and plan of management during this financial year.”

    The draft Conservation Management Plan is on public exhibition at shape.lakemac.nsw.gov.au/rathmines-park until Friday 24 August.

    Copies of the draft plan are also available at Council’s administration building and at Speers Point, Morisset, Wangi Wangi and Toronto Libraries.