The new visitor building in a $50 million upgrade of the historic area at Kurnell will look out over parkland towards Botany Bay.
A new draft master plan says the building will replace the existing visitors centre, which is “tired and has poor relationship to the park generally”.
The new facility will include space for a “museum grade exhibition area” to support community events and exhibitions, a cafe with seating for 70 inside and 25 outside, an education area for school groups and a local office for National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The draft master plan was released when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined in the announcement of the upgrade of this part of Kamay Botany Bay National Park for the 250th anniversary in 2020 of the arrival of Lieutenant James Cook and the Endeavour.
Mr Turnbull chatted with several families and other visitors to the park, and, as usual, posed for “selfies”.
It is envisaged the master plan will be implemented in three stages as funding becomes available.
The $50 million committed by the federal and state governments will cover only stage one, plus a new aquatic monument at the original mooring site.
The aquatic monument is believed to have been added by Treasurer and Cook MP Scott Morrison, and could be chosen from a design competition.
“It won’t be Captain Cook looking through a telescope, but something that is sensitive, inclusive and tells both stories,” a government source said.
Other projects in stage one include:
Foreshore Loop: A new 850 metre circuit, including an accessible pathway, to connect the key historical monuments and places within a revegetated bush landscape
Ferry wharves: New wharves will be built at Kurnell and La Perouse.
The ferry service was discontinued in 1959, restarted seven years later and finally ceased in 1974 when both wharves were destroyed by storms.
A ferry connection “would provide for an exciting new visitor experience and members of the local Aboriginal community have indicated that reconstruction of the wharves and introduction of a ferry service would be the most significant outcome from the master plan project for cultural and other reasons”, the draft master plan says.
Alpha House: The boundary fence and 1960s garage will be removed to enable it to become a place for the community. At present, it is a NPWS office.
Botanical collection garden: A garden to be located near the visitor building for historically significant plant species from the area.
Commemoration Flat: The parkland adjoining the visitors centre will be upgraded with new picnic tables and barbeques, toilet blocks and an accessible pathway.
Stage Two: The vehicle entry from Captain Cook Drive will be realigned and a new beach park created adjacent to it to take advantage of the existing grassed area and its attractive beach views.
The new park will include picnic tables, seats and pathways, with formalised access to the beach.
Stage Three: This will provide an upgrade of the broader Kurnell Precinct, including Yena, Cape Solander and the network of existing walking tracks and trails.
The existing picnic area at Yena, with its sweeping ocean views will be upgraded and transformed into a camping area with new amenities and improved car and bicycle parking facilities.
Cape Solander, one of NSW’s best whale watching destinations will also be upgraded.
The existing lookout will be replaced with a new whale watching shelter.
Amenities will be installed and a defined pathway with direct access to the car park area and seating for visitors constructed. Interpretation will be installed to inform and engage visitors.
The existing network of tracks and trails that transect the Kurnell Precinct will be upgraded and improved interpretation installed to enhance the overall visitor experience. Bush regeneration will also be undertaken.
MASTER PLAN BACKGROUND
The background to the new draft master plan is outlined in the document:
In the lead-up to the 250th anniversary, the Office of Environment and Heritage engaged Neeson Murcutt Architects to review the 2008 master plan and expand it to include the broader Kurnell Precinct geographical area.
The new document encompasses the Meeting Place as well as Inscription Point, The Leap and The Steps, Yena and Cape Solander and the interconnecting tracks and trails.
At the same time as preparing the Kurnell Precinct Master Plan, NPWS has been preparing a new Plan of Management for the entire Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
The draft plan of management sets out the broad priorities and actions for the management of the national park over a medium to longterm timeframe.
Any proposals in the Kurnell Precinct Master Plan must be consistent with the plan of management.
A Community Reference Panel was involved in the preparation of the master plan.
It included Aboriginal community members, representatives from the offices of state and federal members of parliament, local government and community and interest groups including the Sutherland Historical Society, the Captain Cook Society and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
A Design Review Panel was established by the Office of the Government Architect to review the work of the design team and to ensure that best practice in design is adhered to.
A series of workshops with stakeholders helped to inform the design of the master plan.
Participants came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including Aboriginal community representatives, historians, cultural institutions, ecologists, park user groups and NPWS park managers.