The Port Authority of NSW’s Macquarie Pier interpretation and free audio tour has been named as a finalist in The National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards.

The interpretation and heritage signage project complemented Port Authority’s $1.85 million multistage restoration, improvement, and interpretation revitalisation project at Macquarie Pier, which included reconstructing a new wider pathway with continuous sandstone seating, maritime style handrail, upgraded lighting and a new activation area for community events. 

The interpretative and education signage project was officially launched on 6 March 2022. 

Port Authority of NSW CEO, Philip Holliday, said it was an honour to be recognised in The National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards, which recognise excellence in conservation, protection, and interpretation of First Nations, built, natural and cultural heritage over 2022-23.

“Port Authority owns and operates the iconic Macquarie Pier and Nobby’s Headland Lighthouse Precinct, so one of our key objectives was to work out how to protect and share the many important historical facts and cultural stories associated with this important area as part of our restoration project,” Mr Holliday said.

“There’s so much to share – from prehistoric volcanic activity 300 million years ago that created Nobbys-Whibaygamba Headland, to the area’s significance to the Awabakal and Worimi as Traditional Owners of the land and sea, to Macquarie Pier’s role in Newcastle’s maritime history, and the shelling of Newcastle by a Japanese submarine during World War II – right up to today, where this site remains an important social, economic and cultural place for the people of Newcastle.

“To complement the major heritage works, our solution was to develop a series of ten educational interpretative signs along the walkway, and to add a free immersive self-guided audio tour while complementing this with a visual video guide as well.”

Accessible through QR codes installed along the pier, people can listen, read or watch as they stroll along the pier towards Nobbys Whibaygamba Headland. 

“A key challenge was collating the extensive research of key local historians and the community relating to the vast heritage and cultural significance of this site as part the story of Newcastle,” Mr Holliday said. 

“We know thousands of locals and visitors use the popular walkway each year and we hope we have provided something here for everyone, from the very young to the history buff.

“We recognised the importance of conserving the historic pathway located at the end of the popular Bathers Way coastal walk to the end of Nobbys Breakwall for the benefit of the whole community, both now and for generations to come.”

The National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards will be held on 12 May 2023 at Doltone House in Pyrmont and is a signature event of the Australian Heritage Festival.

The Macquarie Pier Revitalisation Project was completed by the Port Authority with contributions from the New South Wales Government Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund (NPCCF) and Port of Newcastle.

Feature image: An aerial view of Nobbys-Whibayganba headland. Provided by Port Authority NSW.

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