Newsletter – April 2023

Whale Beach (April 2023) Courtesy Leonor Gouldthorpe

Community pressure brings result

During the last few months we have joined with many local residents to oppose a commercial development application which has threatened to replace the much loved Fish & Chip shop with an overlarge and intrusive development of shop-top housing.

There already is an approved development on this site but it was not nearly so large and did not overwhelm Barrenjoey House. Such has been the community reaction that the Council has received more than 150 submissions opposing it and of course it has been sent for consideration to the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel. At their first meeting in February the Panel asked for amended plans reducing the overall bulk and scale and the mansard roof, making the balcony columns less obtrusive and minimising the screening of the mechanical plant enclosure. Some changes were made to the original plans including substitution of a flat roof but the Council felt strongly that the original mansard roof was preferable so, with a small reduction in height (460mm) and other minor alterations but no real change to the bulk and scale of the building it was sent back to the Planning Panel for further consideration. This meeting took place on Thursday 20 April. Five objectors appeared before the Panel including Robert Mackinnon for the Association and made representations that the application was still substantially outside the planning controls and not in the public interest. We were also concerned that it would set a most undesirable precedent for future developments. By majority (2 votes to 1) the Panel has determined that the application should be refused.
Clause 4.6 of the Pittwater Local Environment Plan allows a variation to the control plan if it can be proved that compliance with the standards is unreasonable or unnecessary. However, the Panel found that the variations were not justified and it had not been proved that the proposed development would be in the public interest and consistent with the standards and objectives for development within the zone in which the development is proposed to be carried out. Moreover, it was found to be inconsistent with the provisions of the Pittwater LEP as regards Heritage Conservation, Geotechnical Hazards, the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act for the Palm Beach locality, and did not meet the Design Quality Principles of SEPP (State Environment Planning Policy) in particular: Principle 1 Context and Neighbourhood Character Principle 2 Built Form and Scale Principle 3 Aesthetics In addition they found that the development was not in the public interest. This is a resoundingly successful result for all those who took the trouble to investigate the development – not always easy on the Council Planning & Development website – and make a submission. These submissions undoubtedly resulted in the careful scrutiny of the Planning Panel which led to this successful outcome. To anyone who looked at this development it was obvious that it was not appropriate in this location. Palm Beach still has, and wishes to retain, a ‘seaside village’ atmosphere and this development is next door to one of the most well known heritage buildings in Palm Beach – Barrenjoey House – and would have overwhelmed it. We do not know what the next stage will be and this is not the end of the story. Please be ready for another effort if it is needed. It is disappointing that this is necessary particularly since some residents have had to spend large sums on consultants’ reports on this site as well as many others as we do not seem to be able to rely on our Council to insist that new developments should remain within the planning controls. For those who look back fondly to the days when we had a Fish & Chip Shop, this is how it used to look.


Bob Grace has died at the age of 87. He was a community champion in every way. He became a Pittwater Councillor in 1998 and from then on passionately fought for the area, latterly for Pittwater Council to be restored. He was actively involved in Whale Beach Surf Club for 30 years and as a keen golfer belonged to Palm Beach Golf Club for 20 Years. He was a well-known figure at local meetings and in his red MG, open and friendly and willing to help anyone who needed it. He was a practicing Barrister and said it was his legal experience that made him aware that there were a lot of people who needed some assistance. As a Councillor he could try to do that and he certainly did. He said he tried to treat everyone with respect and dignity. We certainly respected him and gave him much affection too. There will be a community celebration of his life with details to be posted later. Vale Bob Grace and thank you.


As we reported in the last Newsletter, Louise Kerr has been appointed Acting CEO following the resignation of Ray Brownlee. Michael Regan has become the Independent State Member for Wakehurst and has resigned as Mayor but will remain a Councillor until the next Council elections or for two years whichever is the sooner. Rory Amon, now the Liberal State Member for Pittwater, has resigned as a Councillor.


Careel Bay

Work on the footpath on Barrenjoey Road between Careel Head Road and Currawong Road was delayed to investigate the drainage before commencing work. At a meeting of the Council, PBWBA and Avalon Preservation Association we heard that Transport for NSW has requested additional work which is beyond current funding from the State Government. Therefore the project has been scaled back to footpath, adjustments of driveways, some retaining walls and drainage pits, but no kerb and gutter. Bollards will need to be installed for pedestrian safety because there will be no kerb and gutter. This seems an absurd situation but we are assured the Council has no money to add kerbs and gutters and the State Government refuses to fund them.
Work should start in 4-6 weeks.

Surf Road intersection

The Council Traffic Network team are currently working on options for the Surf Road and Barrenjoey Road intersection with Transport for NSW.


At the last Council meeting Councillors voted to reverse a decision taken last month to reduce funding to three local organisations – Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter, Community Northern Beaches and The Burdekin Association. The previous decision had been taken without giving the organisations time to respond so the decision was revisited at the request of Councillors. The recission motion was moved by Councillors Amon, Bingham and Crvelin. A compromise motion was passed retaining funding for two years with a fifty per cent cut in the third year.
Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter is a safe haven supporting women so they can rebuild their lives, reclaim their independence and rejoin society. Tel. (02) 9977 7772
Community Northern Beaches supports vulnerable and disadvantaged people with early intervention programmes for families, youth and children . For domestic violence contact crisis line (24 hr service) 1800 65 64 63 52 Raglan Street, Manly (02) 9977 1066
The Burdekin Association aims to prevent youth homelessness and family breakdowns. It operates Avalon Youth Hub which is a collaboration of youth services coming together to support young people in Pittwater. It has a drop-in centre in Avalon. Contact 0487 936 875 and
All these organisations would welcome donations to enable them to continue their work which is funded by the community and provides a valuable to service to many local residents.

The Women’s Shelter is holding a Gala Ball at the Manly Pacific Hotel on Saturday 13 May 2023. This is their major fund raiser of the year so support it if you can. All funds will go directly to supporting on-going shelter operations.
Dress: Cocktail ‘Black and Gold’


The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Northern Beaches Council are running a free chemical collection on Saturday and Sunday (24-25 June) at the Mona Vale Beach car park, Surfview Road, Mona Vale between 9 am to 3.30 pm each day. If you cannot make this perhaps you can go a little further to St Ives Showground, 450 Mona Vale Road, St Ives on Saturday or Sunday (27-28 May) between 9 am and 3.30 pm each day. The clean-out days offer a safe way to dispose of unwanted chemicals. Household quantities up to 20 kg or 20L per item can be disposed of there.


The Council Planning Department says it is aware of the many problems with compliance and enforcement of the terms of approved developments. Also the consequences of the Private Certification Scheme and trees being cut down without authorisation.
Everyone wants a stronger compliance culture but the Planning Department say they do not have enough staff to ensure compliance on every development. Some Councillors at the meeting on 28 March felt that the system needed a complete overhaul. The Acting CEO will prepare a report in time for the May Council meeting outlining what they would propose to improve the situation.
We will await this with interest.


Humpback whale – image Thomas Kelley

At the March coffee morning, Robbie Newman of Living Oceans gave us an impromptu talk with a brief description of this Citizen Science Group which started with a desire to Save the Whales but then moved on to concentrating on the threat of plastics. It is an Australian not-for-profit environmental association operating as a centre for marine studies to contribute to international research, community education and the conservation of marine environments and animals. Their investigations into the science of plastics have empowered people by gathering data which had not been collected before. As a result one of the members was able to devise a computer programme mapping the spread of plastics and this is now one of the leading programmes concerning animal welfare. He was proud to report that in 2017 Living Oceans became the first organisation ever to stop a seismic test. He told us that the whales have returned to the east coast of Australia in good numbers – probably now between 20,000 and 40,000. With the aid of volunteers they are examining the unique water system based on Careel Bay to see how it should be managed. This includes the mangroves, seagrass etc. LJ Hooker are supporting them with the use of a boat and Laing & Simmons have donated an underwater drone. There is a colony of seals on Barrenjoey Headland but they are being harassed by jet skis and boats coming in too close to them. Fairy penguins have declined in numbers near the shore but they are now feeding further out. There are investigations currently into whether they are swallowing bits of plastic. For those interested in tracking animal behaviour Living Oceans have developed an app called Behayve which can record animal behaviour on your smart phone. If you are interested in getting involved with Living Oceans you can find out more on: or phone 0410 374 333
There is also a Citizen Science Expedition from 20 December 2023 to 1 January 2024 investigating the rewilding of our oceans organised by Living Ocean and Southern Sea Ventures. More information from Living Ocean or Southern Sea Ventures or phone 03 6292 5610


During the Australian Government Privacy Awareness Week (1-7 May) the Council will be setting up a Tech Table for drop-in help at Mona Vale Library for adults and seniors. Bring your questions or your devices and have a chat with the tech help volunteers. Learn new skills. Collect a free copy of the “Little Black Book of Scams” by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). Attendance is free and no bookings are required. Enquiries to 8495 6874


6 Mitchell Road (below the Bible Garden) PEX 2022/0003

This is an application to rezone a strip of land below the Bible Garden and it was passed by the Council. The land which is now the Bible Garden was part of land subdivided by the family of Gerald Hercules Robinson (who created the Bible Garden and formed the Bible Garden Trust). One part was the Bible Garden and the other part included a cottage under the laneway/right of way below the Bible Garden plus the strip of land now envisaged as a garage as part of a DA to rebuild the cottage. Originally the cottage was lived in by Beatrice Robinson (Gerald’s daughter) who curated the garden and was Deaconess at St. David’s, Palm Beach. The subdivision occurred in 2004 after Beatrice’s death in 1994. The Plan of Subdivision provided for a garage to be built on the strip of land below the Bible Garden on condition that the roof of the garage became a viewing platform for the Bible Garden. This meant that the strip of land was zoned for Public Recreation (RE1). The ownership of the Bible Garden passed to the Council in 2006 but it is still managed by the Friends of the Bible Garden.
The garage, as envisaged, will have two layers, the top part being the viewing platform for the Bible Garden and still zoned RE1 and the bottom part containing a garage (and possibly a lift) and now to be rezoned C4 (the same as the residence to be rebuilt under the laneway). The height of the garage is limited. It must not obscure the view from the Bible Garden in any way. This is what was envisaged in the Plan of Subdivision which was approved in 2005. The DA for 6 Mitchell Road submitted in 2021 was refused as the zoning of the strip of land did not permit the building of a garage. When the application to rezone the land was made the Council consulted local residents and the Friends of the Bible Garden and it was sent to the Planning Panel because of the Council ownership and a possible conflict of interest. The Planning Panel approved it and it then went to the Council where it was approved with one dissenting voice. It will now go to the State Government for final approval. The DA for rebuilding the cottage will be considered again after State Government approval of the rezoning and there will be opportunity for public comment.

12-14 Rock Bath Road (DA2023/0342)

The Development Application for 12-14 Rock Bath Road is a considerable overdevelopment of the site and not within the controls of the Pittwater LEP. Its bulk is excessive and inconsistent with the character of nearby dwellings. It is four storeys high (which is not allowed in the LEP) with three storeys extending across the property (two blocks) and one storey set back. It is zoned C4 Environmental Living but does not retain existing vegetation or a wild life corridor. The soft landscaping is achieved by including the public land at the front of the property, a green roof and the rock face and does not have the effect of softening the built form. Safety in this fragile location is a major issue. A cliff edge is the highest classification of geotechnical risk in the Pittwater LEP. The proposed development is not set back but overhangs the cliff which is made up of low strength, soft and unstable Narrabeen sandstone. It is evident that rocks have become dislodged from the cliff face. The geotechnical reports which accompany the development application are not adequate and it is not clear that the safety issues have been properly assessed.
Submissions can be made to


Northern Beaches Council has partnered with EarlyEd Cubby House to offer toy library services at Mona Vale Library. There will be a 12 month community trial with access to a ‘click and collect’ toy and game service. Borrowers will need to join the Cubby House Toy Library at a cost of $100 a year.
More information:


Northern Beaches Council has received $25,000 from the State Government to fund improvements to the riparian vegetation condition of Careel Creek. They will also commit $50,000 to the project in partnership with the NSW Department of Planning & Environment – Crown Lands as part of its Crown Lands Improvement Fund.

Volunteers Needed


The Council is running a series of workshops and pop-up information sessions, championing diversity on the Northern Beaches. They wish to develop a Multicultural Inclusion Plan. The Plan will outline how we can work together to make the Northern Beaches a more welcoming and inclusive place for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
There are 263,554 residents on the Northern Beaches of which 80,000 were born overseas. 132 languages are spoken and 240 different ancestries have been identified.
The pop-up session remaining is at Abbey Road Netball Hard Courts, John Fisher Park, North Curl Curl Saturday 6 May 8-10am
Alternatively, you can share your thoughts online by completing a comment form on or contact Luca Chudleigh, Social Planner, Social Planning & Service 1300 434434

Full moon over Pittwater


There is a community survey on the Avalon Shared Space. The Survey has been extended and will now close on Sunday 1 October 2023. The Council wish to judge reactions to the shared zone in Old Barrenjoey Road. You can comment on things like loss of parking spaces, the new positions of the pedestrian crossings etc. and there is space to suggest solutions to problems you identify.

Please share your opinions which you can do on the link below.

L: Fisherman at Palm Beach pool | R: Stairs to Palm Beach pool


The Council has chosen Resilience as the main focus for its Operational Plan and Budget to increase its ability to respond to storms, floods and a challenging global economy. The program has as a priority protection of the environment and sustainability initiatives which are vital to our Northern Beaches lifestyle.
Council provides the following Budget Snapshot:

To meet these costs Council relies on a 3.7% increase in rates. There have been changes to land valuations on which rates are based. A rates calculator is available on the Council website to give more information on individual properties. Council is allocating $9 per household of the Domestic Waste Management charge to reduce and recycle more waste.
The Association will be meeting with Council representatives to discuss details of local projects listed such as work on Whale Beach Rockpool and bus stop renewal in Ocean Road, Palm Beach although it seems there is very little expenditure planned in Palm Beach and Whale Beach. We will be taking the opportunity to stress again that there are urgent issues to address in our area.
You can Have Your Say on the Draft Delivery Program on the link below:


The Coffee Morning was held again at the RSL (Club Palm Beach) with the President in the chair and the main speaker being Rohan Walter, the Lead Guide of Barrenjoey Lighthouse and the Lighthouse Keepers’ cottages. He emphasised that he spoke as a private person who volunteers for the NPWS, not on behalf of National Parks, and his views are his own. The Guides are available every Sunday 11am-3pm and reveal the history of the area to some of the 5,000 people who climb to the Lighthouse every week. There are 16 Guides in total and they are each on duty one Sunday a month. Barrenjoey Headland is consistently one of the Top Twenty Sydney Attractions and attracts people from all over the world including the fans of Home and Away who are a constant group. Rohan has many stories to tell, not only those connected with the Lighthouse, as he was a Qantas pilot for 37 years, 35 of them on the 747 Jumbos. He is passionate about the Pittwater area and in his very active retirement wishes to give back in any way he can. He has a boat and a seaplane of his own (rather smaller than the 747), is Chairman of the Pittwater Users’ Group, founder of the Pittwater Weather Association ( and on the Committee of The Seaplane Pilots Association, amongst many other local organisations.
One of the important references to the history of the Lighthouse and Barrenjoey Headland are two books written by Jervis Sparks who lived in one of the Assistant Masters’ Cottages with his wife Bridget from 1968 to 1998. During that time he wrote two books ‘Tales from Barranjoey’ – note the spelling – and ‘The Red Light of Palm Beach’ which is about the lighthouse keepers from 1881 to 1932.
The ‘Tales from Barranjoey’ is a precious record of Barranjoey, self-published by Jervis Sparks in 1992 with black and white photographs, a fold-out family tree and full of historical anecdotes and stories from the peninsula. Rohan is keen to make an ebook and an audio book of it, with the permission of Jervis’s widow, Bridget Sparks, who holds the copyright, so that the stories can become more widely known. We will report progress along the way.
Rohan referred to vandalism as a problem, not severe at this time but, as an example, the windows in the cottages have been replaced as thieves vandalised them while stealing the lead surrounding them. He does not believe that the area can ever be completely commercialised as its remoteness does not lend itself to this kind of development. Safety is a major problem as we have pointed out and he has firsthand experience of having to ring the Surf Club many times to get the dune buggy up the track to deal with medical emergencies. He reported that the Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage is in good condition as it is used regularly by NPWS staff but the Assistant Lighthouse Keepers’ joined cottages are in a bad state of repair confirming our information. National Parks forbids dogs on the headland and drones are also not allowed as they pose a risk to the many visitors. We are grateful to Rohan Walter for giving us a fascinating glimpse into activities around the Lighthouse and we will look forward to seeing Jervis Sparks book more readily available.
Following the talk we discussed progress on current DAs (reported elsewhere in the Newsletter), the Council Delivery Program and Operational Plan and the proposed survey of the EMF levels surrounding the water tower in Boanbong Road.
The President also reported that the Pittwater Community Alliance are meeting to discuss with our new MP, Rory Amon, the facilities offered by Northern Beaches Hospital. It is of vital importance that it is able to treat all major trauma and a Stroke Unit must be part of it. At the moment stroke patients need to be taken to Royal North Shore Hospital as the essential equipment needed to treat them is not available at Northern Beaches Hospital. The PCA will also be asking for his assistance to obtain sufficient funding to achieve floodproofing and widening of Wakehurst Parkway so that our direct route to the hospital is not closed intermittently as currently. Now that we have a new government we will probably see many different priorities.

ANZAC DAY – 25 April 2023

Dawn on Whale Beach on Anzac Day


Several hundred people attended both the Dawn Service at Whale Beach and the March and Service held at Palm Beach RSL where the Rev. Lloyd Bennet and Mark Ferguson OAM conducted the service. At Palm Beach RSL the music was provided by the local school band, including the Last Post. We are reminded that 415,809 Australians enlisted for service in the First World War, out of a total population of 4 million, or 38.7 per cent of the male population. 61,674 died. In the Second World War there were 39,656 deaths with 1 million Australians serving in the various campaigns.
Gallipoli, the origin of our ANZAC legend and tradition, was a failure for the Allies. 44,000 soldiers were killed in an attempt to take the peninsula from the Ottoman Turks who also lost many men, at least 87,000. On 13 November 1915 Field Marshall Lord Kitchener, the Supreme Allied Commander, spent two hours in the Australian trenches inland of Lone Pine and after consulting commanders in the field he decided that Gallipoli should be evacuated.
Although many casualties were anticipated, the evacuation was a success with no casualties. It started on 15 December 1915 and over 5 nights 36,000 troops were withdrawn to the waiting troop carriers. In a plan devised by an Australian staff officer, Lieut-Colonel Charles Brudenell White, men were gradually and silently withdrawn with a great deal of equipment. Even the Mule Corps carrying heavier stores operated silently except for an occasional jingle of a chain. The Turks were accustomed to the movement of the mules taking in supplies so this was nothing unusual. Stunts were employed to ensure that the Turks felt the trenches were still full of men followed by irregular rifle and artillery fire. Just two days before the final evacuation a famous cricket game was played at Shell Green while Turkish shells passed overhead. An accidental fire started on 18 December in the supply dump on North Beach and almost undid the plan. However, it proceeded smoothly and the Australians were withdrawn to fight elsewhere.
One man who served and was injured on Gallipoli and eventually became a local ‘personality’ was Carl Gow. He was the youngest son of Robert and Mary Gow originally from Newcastle and joined up in Liverpool to serve in the Australian army as a Private on 28 May 1915. He sailed to Europe on 16 June as part of the 3rd Battalion AIF (NSW) lst Infantry Brigade. He was wounded at Gallipoli on 21 August 1915 and sent to hospital three days later on the Greek island of Lemnos, not returning to active service until 6 October 1915 then being promoted to Lance Corporal in November. By early the following year he had been moved to Egypt where he was transferred to the 55th Battalion, composed partly of Gallipoli veterans and partly new recruits from Australia. In April he became Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant and the Battalion moved to France on 30 June 1916. Promotion came again in August, to 2nd Leiutenant, and then in February 1917 he became a Lieutenant.
The trench warfare was horrendous and in the three years from 1916 to 1918 there were 181,000 Australian casualties, 46,000 of whom died. Lieut. Gow was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Military Cross on 4 June 1918. Later that year he went on leave to Paris and it is hard to imagine the contrast that must have been. On 13 December 1918 he was made Honorary Captain. In 1920 he also received the 1914-15 Star, a campaign medal of the British Empire, for service in World War 1, the British war Medal and the Victory Medal.
Captain Gow arrived back in Australia on 22 May 1919 and was reunited with his family on Barrenjoey where they were Lighthouse Keepers. He settled into civilian life in Palm Beach, establishing the Gow-Gonsalves Boatshed and opening a general store in Pittwater Park. He also opened the Rendezvous Tea Rooms (now Boathouse Home) in the mid-1920s and this became the social hub of Palm Beach. The Boatshed was, however, the scene of many fund raisers and celebrations at Christmas and Melbourne Cup. Family photographs of the Gonzalves and Verrills families show the life of the early Palm Beach community much of which surrounded the Boatshed.

L: The March, Barrenjoey Road | R: Our young musicians


The Association has been contacted by SOS Northern Beaches & Northern Beaches for Safe Technology regarding a new electromagnetic field (EMF) monitoring project with Sensaweb Australia to ask if we would like to participate in monitoring and measuring ongoing EMF levels associated with the Boanbong Road Base Station Water Tower. As well as providing important information concerning EMF levels in our own area the project would pool information with other similar investigations for further initiatives particularly concerning EMF and electric field levels located near homes and schools. We have agreed to pay half the cost of this project, the other half being shared between residents in the immediate area.


Monday 8 May – 7 pm at the Pacific Club


The President and Committee Members warmly invite all members of the Association to attend the AGM which will be held, as usual, at Club Palm Beach at 7 pm on Tuesday 9 May, 2023.
Refreshments will be served afterwards and we look forward to seeing as many members as possible.


Friday 26 May at 10.30 am at the Pacific Club
The speaker will be Phil Devon, Manager, Traffic Department, Northern Beaches Council on “All things Traffic and Parking in Palm Beach and Whale Beach”.

Professor Richard West
0407 942 941
Click to Contact PBWBA