Newsletter – January / February 2024

Palm Beach and Barrrenjoey Headland – Courtesy Leonor Gouldthorpe


We mark with the greatest sadness the death of Martin McCallum who resigned from the Association’s Committee last year after serving on it for 10 years.
Martin was born in England and began his theatre career at the Castle Theatre in Farnham later becoming a production manager at the Old Vic, the home of the National Theatre, under the leadership of Laurence Olivier. There he managed many shows including ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ by Eugene O’Neill starring Olivier and Constance Cummings and Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ starring John Geilgud and Ralph Richardson. In 1978 he formed The Production Office which specialised in technical and general production management, the first of its kind.
In 1981 as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical ‘Cats’ was becoming a world wide hit the producer Cameron Mackintosh called in Martin McCallum to help. He collaborated in the management of Mackintosh’s overseas operations, particular in Australia and New York, and worked with him to restore the first two of Mackintosh’s West End theatres. In the 1980s he played a significant part in the success of ‘Cats’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Miss Saigon’. In tribute, Cameron McIntosh has said “My companies’ ongoing success is in no small part due to the enduring foundations Martin laid so wisely in the 1980s and 90s”. Altogether he worked on more than 500 shows on Broadway and the West End. He was also President of the Society of London Theatre and Advisor to the Arts Council.
He moved permanently to Sydney in 2003 and built his own house in Palm Beach designed by his brother-in-law who was an architect. He served on the board of the Sydney Theatre Company from 2005-2014 and was the inaugural Chair of the STC50 Building Committee which oversaw the masterplan development for the first major renovation of the Wharf since 1984. The Sydney Theatre Company pays tribute to his enormous contribution and the impact he had on the Company leaving a legacy through his work, guidance and mentorship that will continue to inspire future generations of theatre lovers.
In Pittwater he joined the Council’s working group on Art, Culture and Heritage in 2015 and later Martin and John Pearson formed the Barrenjoey Alliance with Sue Boaden and Conrad Grayson as a means of influencing the Council’s directions on the Coast Walk and other arts initiatives. He came with global experience. He never thought small and he contributed greatly to the thinking at council and community level. Michael Regan has commented that Martin was involved in the discussion on the reuse of the Manly Town Hall, developing a scheme that would have delivered for the community. Two years ago he bought a beautiful property in Tilba Tilba and enthusiastically set about transforming it.
Martin was a great thought leader. He provided insight and was passionate about making a difference. It was a delight to know him and spend time with him.
We will miss him.

Palm Beach


In a big win for Pittwater the NSW Department of Planning has recommended that all the Conservation Zones in Pittwater be kept and not rezoned R2 or Residential as flagged in the Council’s Conservation Zones Review.
In the Pittwater LEP 71 houses in Palm Beach and Whale Beach are zoned R2. The Council originally proposed to zone a further 204 houses in a zone described as “Residential”. We objected to this and the Council subsequently changed its mind and put proposals to the State Government which has resulted in the following agreement:

All the Conservations Zones in Palm Beach and Whale Beach will remain, together with the original R2 and E1 zones (standing for Enterprise areas) which contain small businesses meant to serve the local community.

There are three E1 zones in Palm Beach and one in Whale Beach.

Nabilla Road

In addition to the E1 commercial zones there are three areas of residential housing which are zoned R2.
They are:

  • Eastern (non-beachfront) side of Iluka Road from the Iluka Apartments to Snapperman Lane including Nabilla and Woorak Roads
  • Western side of Barrenjoey Road from the Post Office Store (not included as it is E1) to Snapperman Lane
    Area bounded by Palm Beach Road, Ocean Road, Ocean Place and Florida Road (excluding the shops)

A comprehensive article explaining the background can be found here:

Pittwater Online News-Conservation Zones win!


In December 2023 the State Government announced significant proposals to allow further development and increase density in greater Sydney. It is intended that these reforms will create capacity to deliver up to an estimated 112,000 new homes across the Greater Sydney region, the Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra. It represents 30% of the number of houses NSW needs to meet under its Housing Accord target of 377,000 new homes by 2029. The impact will be felt across the Northern Beaches including Palm Beach, Avalon and Newport. The proposals contain mandated non-refusal standards which effectively take planning control away from the Council and thus the community and take no account of local infrastructure and public utilities, public transport, schools, traffic and parking, tree canopy, heritage, character, topography and hazards.

Key changes proposed which will affect the Northern Beaches

  • Allowing two dwellings on the same lot (known as dual occupancy) in all R2 low density residential zones across the Northern Beaches on properties with an area of greater than 450sqm and width of at least 12m
  • Allowing many properties zoned R2 over 500sqm in area and within 800m walking distance of a town centre to develop medium density housing, allowing terraces and manor houses (effectively 2 storey flats)
  • Allowing many properties zoned R2 with an area over 600sqm, at least 12m lot width and within 800m walking distance of a town centre to develop medium density housing as townhouses
  • Allowing Residential Flat Buildings and shop top housing up to 21m (6-7 storeys) in R3 medium density residential zones that are within 400m walking distance of town centres – land zoned E2 Commercial Centre, E1 Local Centre of MU1 Mixed Use
  • Allowing Residential Flat Buildings up to 16m (4-5 storeys) in R3 medium density residential zones that are between 400m and 800m walking distance of most of our village and town centres (land zoned E2 Commercial Centre, E1 Local Centre or MU1 Mixed Use

Under these proposed changes, multi-storey apartment blocks of various heights up to 21m within 400m and up to 16m within 800m of Narrabeen Town Centre, Warriewood Square and Mona Vale Town Centre could be permitted. The changes represent a near doubling of current heights.
It is unclear whether these apartment blocks, terraces, townhouses and manor houses will be permitted in Newport and Avalon as the definition of a town centre is vague and confusing and needs clarification.
Since the State Government has confirmed that C4 Conservation Zones will remain in Palm Beach and Whale Beach and the new Planning Reforms proposed do not affect this, the only changes will be to our R2 zones (see section on Conservation Zones in this Newsletter) where the permitted dwelling height will increase from 8.5m to 9.5m and the minimum lot size is reduced from 700sqm to 450sqm. There are no R3 zones in Palm Beach or Whale Beach and no properties zoned R2 in Whale Beach.
We believe this one-size-fits-all policy is unacceptable as it will have major impacts on the natural environment, infrastructure, character, amenity, heritage and village feel which we love in Pittwater. It is critically important that the State Government and Department of Planning work collaboratively with Councils and the community using their knowledge of their particular LGA to ensure that additional housing is located appropriately and in a way which preserves local character and the environment. Heritage has been removed as a Planning control under these proposed Reforms, as have a variety of hazards such as fire and flood, which is very concerning.
The Council Planning Department have prepared a Submission on these proposed Planning Reforms which is on the website included with papers for the Council meeting on 27 February when Council will be debating it. There is considerable opposition to these Planning Reforms and concern about how they will affect Avalon and Newport particularly. If you also have concerns we recommend that you attend the Council meeting which will commence at 6 pm on Tuesday 27 February at the Council Chambers in Dee Why. It can also be viewed online.
Links are:
NSW Government Planning Reforms

Northern Beaches Council Submission on Planning Reforms
(Submission is in Section 12.1 on Page 265)
Northern Beaches Council meeting live stream
PBWBA Submission


The Palladium, Ocean Road, Palm Beach

Avalon Beach Historical Society first meeting of the year will be on Tuesday 12 March and will be held in the Annexe (old Scout Hall) in the north-western corner of Dunbar Park.
It will start as usual at 8 pm and this time the Society will be stepping outside its comfort zone – all the way to Palm Beach!
A new member of the Society, but an early resident of Palm Beach, David Elfick, the owner of The Palladium on Ocean Road will be the guest speaker. David has owned the building for 50 years and seen it through some fascinating times. After it began as a very popular dance hall in the 1930s, for some years it helped finance the Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club. Later in its long life it served as a café, a restaurant, the Palm Beach Film Club, a film set and possibly home for a while to the long-lived surfing magazine “Tracks”. David’s talk will be supplemented with photos from different eras including some interior photos as well. It sounds a most interesting night and a ‘must’ for Palm Beach residents. You can sign up on the night if you are not a member already ($10 annual fee). The Palladium is not heritage listed although it is likely to be included in Schedule 5 of the new LEP.


The Minister for the Environment has released the NSW State of the Beaches Report 2022-2023 which shows that 96% of monitored beaches have excellent water quality. Both Palm Beach and Whale Beach have been graded ‘very good’.

Palm Beach is 2.3km long, with rock baths in the southern corner. Lifeuards patrol the beach from September to April. The Beach Suitability Grade of Very Good indicates microbial water quality is considered suitable for swimming almost all the time, with few potential sources of faecal contamination. Enterococci levels increased slightly with increasing rainfall, occasionally exceeding the safe swimming limit after 10mm or more of rain, and often after 20mm or more. The site has been monitored since 1989.

Whale Beach is 600m long, with rock baths at the southern rock platform. Lifeguards patrol the beach from September to April. The Beach Suitability Grade of Very Good indicates microbial water quality is considered suitable for swimming almost all of the time, with few potential sources of faecal contamination. Enterococci levels increased slightly with increasing rainfall, occasionally exceeding the safe swimming limit after 10mm or more of rain. The site has been monitored since 1989.


We have lobbied the Council for some time to install an AED (defibrillator) on the toilet block at the far end of Governor Phillip Park. Thousands of visitors pass by as they head for the Lighthouse or enjoy picnics and water sports on Station Beach. We are pleased to advise that an AED has now been installed and thank the Council for facilitating this.

Barrenjoey Headland

There has been a most successful outcome to our fight against commercialisation of the heritage cottages on the Headland as the Minister for Heritage & the Environment, Penny Sharpe, has stated that the proposal to use them for short term visitor accommodation will not proceed. The Association thanks all the members who did so much to organise our demonstration and raise awareness in the community.
The Minister has also approved the Ku-ring-gai National Park Plan of Management which can be accessed on:

Governor Phillip Park Plan of Management

We are assured by the Council that the draft Plan of Management for Governor Phillip Park will be available by the end of the first half of this year. This will be followed by a period of public consultation.

Fishermen’s Cottages

Notice has been given that the Heritage Council of NSW has received an application to demolish and remove the two former Fishermen’s Cottages on Station Beach near the base of the Headland and remediate the site which is within Barrenjoey Headland Conservation Area, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Both cottages are in a very bad state of repair and possibly contain asbestos. We would therefore support their demolition and the site being returned to its natural state. Since the history of that part of the headland dates back to pre-colonial time and the fishermen’s cottages were possibly used as early as 1916 we would advocate finding a way to disseminate this history more widely.
If you would like to comment you can make a submission until close of business 15 March 2024 to NSW Heritage Management System:

or email to:

Urban Night Sky

Following Northern Beaches Council decision to apply to the International Dark Sky Association for Governor Phillip Park to be an Urban Night Sky Place an application was submitted in December 2023. The application included Barrenjoey Headland as National Parks and Wildlife Service had given formal approval for its inclusion. The Association, on behalf of the majority of its members, has always opposed the inclusion of the Headland believing it is irresponsible to encourage people to visit the Headland at night. It is a dangerous area with no lighting and no road with access difficult even in broad daylight and it would be particularly hard in the dark if there is a medical emergency and there have been many even during daylight hours. The Council is expecting a response to the application early this year.


231 Whale Beach Road, Whale Beach MOD2021/0983
There is an approved Development Application for the redevelopment of the site at 231 Whale Beach Road to include a café/restaurant for 44 patrons indoors and 20 outdoors plus 6 staff. A modification has been submitted by the developers, a local family the Cassars, to increase the number of patrons to 140 indoors and 30 outdoors plus 18 staff. The Association supported the original DA but there is considerable local opposition to an increase of this magnitude as it is feared it will become a function centre. At the last Committee meeting we confirmed our support for the residents and the approved DA. The modification was recommended for approval by the Council but, because of the number of submissions it went to the Local Planning Panel where it was rejected for the following reasons:

  • The impacts of the proposed modification have not been adequately demonstrated
  • Day to day management of the proposed modification will be problematic particularly relating to acoustic impacts
  • The nature of the road and pedestrian movement systems in the vicinity
  • The impact of topography on parking and pedestrian catchments
  • The supply of car parking, particularly in peak times
  • The proximity of residences and the local nature of the business zone
  • The lack of containment of the development in relation to its infrastructure requirements and reliance on the public realm to deliver these
  • The proposed development is not in the public interest

It has now been referred to the Land & Environment Court where it will be heard on 19 March 2024. Demolition of the existing building will start in April.
To access documents:

1102 Barrenjoey Road, Palm Beach DA2022/0469 (former Fish and Chip shop)
A Section 34 Land & Environment Court Conciliation Conference was held on site on 24 January. Approximately 80-100 people attended the Court hearing.
A number of objectors addressed the Commissioner including two of the Association’s Committee Members, Robert Mackinnon and Gordon Lang , following which the Commissioner, legal representatives, experts and the developer’s representatives visited two adjoining properties to understand the concerns raised by the owners of the properties. The parties then moved to Council’s Dee Why Chambers to discuss the application and the issues raised by Council. These discussions occurred over 4 hours during which a number of amendments to the plans were discussed. However, the Court did not find a way to resolve the issues so the conference was adjourned to 5 March 2024 to enable the applicant to produce amended material for Council’s consideration. It was made clear that any amended material will have to be provided to the interested parties and that a decision on such material by Council will only occur after a consideration of any comments received following such notification.
To access documents:

1112-1116 Barrenjoey Road, Palm Beach DA2023/1288 (former General Store)

A development application was approved for shop top housing on this site in 2010 by Pittwater Council but following the sale of the site in 2021 a new DA was lodged for a much larger development. There were many submissions opposing this and it must now be referred to the Local Planning Panel.

As will be seen from the montage above it is an overwhelming development which would dwarf its neighbour, Barrenjoey House.  You can just see a corner of a very small Barrenjoey House. The Association felt that it was of such significance in a very important location that we engaged a consultant, Karen Buckingham of Planning Progress, to draft our response. Her submission on our behalf is on the website. Because of the time which has elapsed since lodging the DA, the developers are able to claim “deemed refusal” and can therefore refer it to the Land & Environment Court for determination which they have done even though the Council is still assessing it and it has yet to go to the Local Planning Panel. No dates for the hearings have yet been announced. If you have not yet made a submission you can still do so as the Council will accept submissions while assessment is taking place.
To access documents:
Submission by Planning Progress on behalf of PBWBA


We have been distressed to observe that four Casuarina trees located in the small waterside reserve between 877a and 879 Barrenjoey Road have recently been poisoned and subsequently removed by Council contractors. The Council have erected signs to this effect and there is a reward for any information regarding the event. Council have advised that new Angophora trees will be planted as replacements after the summer heat has eased. The two Council signs will remain.


Traffic and parking matters are frequently discussed by the Committee and we have many meetings with Council officials to find solutions. We have felt frustrated for some time that plans worked out after considerable discussions with the Traffic Division do not seem to materialise even when we feel we have an agreement on how to proceed. Most changes have to go to the Northern Beaches Council Local Traffic Committee which delays things but does not explain the lack of progress overall. As an example, this month’s meeting of the Local Traffic Committee was due to discuss parking on Pacific Road a matter about which we have been vocal for a number of years. We had no notice that this was to be discussed and found that the recommendations referred to the Committee did not solve the problems which have been identified but we had had no opportunity to comment on the recommendations in spite of all the discussions with us which had taken place on the subject. On this occasion we were able to have the matter deferred to give opportunity for the matter to be reassessed. We earnestly hope that in future we can have the opportunity to comment on recommendations on our local roads which go to the Traffic Committee particularly those affecting safety as it is in all our interests to make changes which will be of real benefit to our residents and local knowledge is invaluable.


Congratulations to the organisers and participants in The Big Swim. There were 1600 participants this year, 4 of whom participated in the first one!

John Warburton deftly organising the Whale Beach end


Courtesy Eddie Bartolo – Whale Beach from Jonah’s

The new shower at the northern end of Whale Beach has been installed and connected and the stormwater pipe has been repaired. The result of the rectification work is not pretty but the Council believes that sand will eventually cover the unsightly bags.


There are currently two leaks in the Palm Beach pool and at times the level of the pool has fallen by up to 30 cm. The Council have erected signs that diving is dangerous because of the low level of the water. We have asked the Council to effect repairs as soon as possible. Pittwater residents’ complaints about murky and leaking rockpools have prompted Cr Miranda Korzy to submit a motion for the February Council meeting calling for a briefing about the five rockpools between Palm Beach and North Narrabeen.


44 years ago there were no female members in Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Club but in August 1980 four young women sat their Bronze Medallion exam and became full members of the Club and could officially patrol the beach. The squad from Whale Beach hold the record as the first female bronze life savers to go through in New South Wales. They were Sara and Jill Peters, Marion Robb and Tina Gowing. Now almost a third of members are female (155 out of 461) at Whale Beach SLSC and they are more than pulling their weight. Bryan Webster trained those first four members recognising them as strong swimmers with real ability and his important role is still acknowledged by the women who are active today.
Even though the ‘70s and ‘80s provided huge opportunities for women, Surf Life Saving had been slow to change – “Would women be physically capable of doing the job?” and “The Club has no facilities for women” were just some of the comments. Today that has all changed and inspirational women have held leadership positions and even gained their Gold Medallions. Over the years young members, male and female, have come from the schools and there were particularly close relationships with Pymble Ladies College and Knox Grammar School. The girls have been helped by mentoring, known as the Big Sister programme, pairing them with more experienced members, and good teaching plus succession planning has ensured that they are able to gain more responsibility and progress.
The great Midget Farrelly taught some of the early female crews and he has recounted how the girls would arrive straight from school, in their uniforms with their straw hats, hop out of the BMW (or similar) change and drag the boat out. He thought it was pretty funny but the girls all loved it. While he was Boat Captain they raised 12 crews in two years and held three boat carnivals at Whale Beach. The girls trained with the boys and to quote Midget “I use females to teach males to row. With guys quite often their manliness gets in the way and rowing is about light touch.”

The Women of Whale aim to promote inclusivity, make women of any age feel valued and increase community engagement. They organise events designed to engage women in surf sports and fitness activities at every level. The Committee also works to ensure that women’s voices are heard and their achievements recognised and celebrated.
The Surf Club has always been a major part of the life of Whale Beach. It has an ‘open door’ policy welcoming new members. To coincide with International Women’s Day they are holding a weekend of events including Pink Zinc Day on 9 March 10am-2pm, an all-women patrol and workshop dedicated to empowering and connecting incredible women. There is also a fund-raising dinner at Dunes Restaurant on Sunday 10 March 5pm-10pm. The link to book for the dinner is:


At a Big Sisters Night Olivia Rees-Ewen and fellow Committee members Steph Darley and Saskia Clarke

If you want to get involved you can do so whether you want to flip burgers on the deck, organise the next Club social event, help the public as a first aider or navigate the surf.
Information on: or email enquiries to or for Women of Whale:


The NSW Government has released a discussion paper seeking community input to inform a comprehensive review of Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) in NSW. The Government states that this is an important step as it looks at ways to address the housing crisis in NSW. It is seeking feedback on the adequacy of the STRA planning and regulatory framework and options for improvement with potential policy options including measures to incentivise property investors to make properties available for long term rental accommodation.
Have your say on short and long rental accommodation before 14 March 2024 –
STRA discussion paper


At the December Council meeting the proposal by the Midget Farrelly Recognition was endorsed which will see a rock relief carving on Black Rock, Ocean Road to honour local surfing legend Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly. This is a petroglyph carving created by incising, picking or carving part of the rock surface. Work is due to begin early this year.


Youth Mental Health
Although the previous State Government had announced a plan to provide 4 new youth mental health beds at Northern Beaches Hospital, Rose Jackson, NSW Minister for Water, Homelessness, Mental Health, Youth and the NSW North Coast has now stated that this is “not feasible”. However, she says that the current NSW Government remains committed to bolstering mental health support for young people and a round table discussion will be held to discuss the next steps. The Government’s new plan includes:
• $939,000 to establish a ‘safe haven’ at Brookvale Community Health Centre
• $472,000 to improve the Northern Beaches Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response Team to respond to crises
• $1.45m. for Northern Sydney Local Health District to address mental health and substance abuse including a service based at Northern Beaches Hospital
• Continuation of the ‘interim’ model for acute youth mental health inpatient treatment at Northern Beaches Hospital
• Increased reporting and monitoring obligations to be placed on Northern Beaches Hospital to address concern of accountability


  • Christmas Party Sunday 8 December 2024 at Dune, Governor Phillip Park
  • AGM Tuesday 14 May 7 pm at Club Palm Beach (John Sinclair, Secretary Manager will be retiring at the end of March after 31 years)
  • Coffee Meetings Last Monday of each month at the Pacific Club 10.30 am
    The next Coffee Morning is on Monday 25 March, 10.30am at the Pacific Club
  • Next Committee Meeting Monday 11 March 7 pm at the Pacific Club

Please do not hesitate to contact PBWBA with any questions, concerns or thoughts.

0407 942 941