Plan released for iconic Worimi Conservation Lands

WCL_PoM_cover_smallThe Worimi Conservation Lands Board of Management has released their ten-year plan to improve awareness, understanding and protection of Worimi culture and sites, and guide conservation and sustainable recreation and tourism in an iconic, Aboriginal-owned coastal landscape north of Newcastle.

The 4000 hectare Worimi Conservation Lands (WCL), incorporating part of the Stockton Bight sand dunes, lies between Newcastle and Port Stephens and is owned by the Worimi people who have leased the lands to the NSW Government to be jointly managed as a national park.

WCL Board chair and Worimi Traditional Owner Petrice Manton said the development of the first management plan for such an important Aboriginal cultural landscape is a significant achievement for the board, and the Worimi people.

“The Worimi Conservation Lands is rich in cultural artefacts, middens and the remains of our ancestors, connecting current and future generations of our people to a culture which is as old as the landscape itself,” Ms Manton said.

“These lands also contain important European cultural heritage, provide a unique habitat for native plants and animals, and are highly valued as an iconic destination for more than 250,000 visitors each year.”

“We believe this plan meets the challenges of respecting and protecting the cultural and natural values of this landscape, while ensuring ongoing opportunities for sustainable recreation and tourism.”

The Worimi Conservation Lands Plan of Management focuses on:

  • Improving awareness, understanding and protection of Worimi cultural values and sites, including new sites as they are exposed by shifting sands
  • Restoring and protecting the frontal dune and beach vegetation
  • Providing 22.5km of Stockton beachfront for 4WD driving and horse riding
  • Providing 350 hectare area of dunes for 4WD driving and conditionally registered quad and trail bikes riding
  • Maintaining and improving safe and sustainable access at Anna Bay, Lavis Lane and Fern Bay
  • Providing access to 3km of beachfront near Anna Bay as an on-leash dog area
  • Introducing safe and sustainable camping at up to 30 designated camp sites
  • Continuing occupation of Tin City under a licence system
  • Continuing commercial tourism.

“The plan gives us clear direction to build on the enormous amount of work already done towards creating a world-class national park from this stunning world-class landscape.”

Ms Manton said it was important for the board to consult widely, with the Worimi people and with the broader community, in a genuine discussion about the future of the park.

“While all of these conversations took time, they were invaluable as we gained new insights about the park and the relationships that people have with this Worimi cultural landscape. The board gained a better understanding of why people value the park and of the issues that are important to them.”

“The consultation process was also an opportunity to raise awareness of the cultural significance of the WCL, and to explain the issues that we have an obligation to address in the plan. “

“As Aboriginal owners, we found the willingness of people to hear and learn about the Worimi cultural values of the park to be a wonderful part of the process.”

Ms Manton said the board carefully considered all of the public submissions on the draft plan and, where possible, amended the plan in line with this feedback.

“We could not adopt some suggested changes due to their potential impact on cultural sites, natural values and visitor safety. “

“We’d like to thank everyone who contributed their knowledge and ideas to the plan. Knowing we have worked with the support of other stakeholders to create a plan to protect this country and its heritage into the future makes me, and all Worimi people, extremely proud.”

The 13-member WCL Board of Management represents the interests of Worimi Traditional Owners, Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council, Port Stephens Council, neighbouring land owners, conservation interests and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The plan has been formally adopted by the NSW Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Lands and Water.

Download a copy of the plan.