Shepherds Hill fix won’t reverse move

Shepherds Hill fix won’t reverse move DISREPAIR: Newcastle Marine Rescue’s Graham Silcock and Ron Calman at the damaged Shepherds Hill cottage. Picture: Marina Neil
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HISTORIC: The Shepherds Hill battery observation post. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DISREPAIR: The Shepherds Hill cottage with badly damaged roof after the April 2015 storm. Picture: Darren Pateman

SCENIC: The Shepherds Hill battery post and cliff-face. Picture: Peter Stoop

TweetFacebookTHE run-down Shepherds Hill cottage will be restored to its original condition, but its long-term tenant Marine Rescue Newcastle faces a move inland to Warabrook.

Newcastle council began renovations on Tuesdaytothe scenic,late-19th centuryKing Edward Park cottage thatwas badly damaged in theApril 2015 storm.

It will geta new roof,plumbing, cladding, posts and beams, and repairs to its wooden windows. The council will also, it said, demolish“unathorised extensions made by various tenants”.

“All works to be undertaken to restore the building will be overseen by a heritage architect,”Newcastle lord mayorNuatali Nelmes said.

“The future use of the cottage is yet to be determinedbut, whatever it is, it will become a community asset and focal point courtesy of its location at the top of King Edward Park on the Bathers Way.”

Marine Rescue Newcastle was forced out by the storm two years agoand has sinceoperatedfrom Kooragang Island in quarterson loan fromthe Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group.

While hopeful the cottage’srepairs will hasten areturn to Shepherds Hill, unit commander Ron Calman said the organisation’simmediate future involvesa less-than-ideal move to Warabrook.

The unit was due tostay on Kooragang onlyuntilJune and, while grateful for the use of the Warabrook Community Centre, Mr Calman said it will be a costly movethat takesthe coastal volunteer service further from the coast.

“People are possibly not aware of the traffic that’s out there [off Newcastle’s coast], particularly in the summertime, and here we areheaded inland,” Mr Calman said.

“It’s a positive sign that they’re doing the repairs, but Marine Rescue Newcastle doesn’t have any concrete information [about returning to Shepherds Hill] from the council.”

The council gained approval for the restoration when it lodged a conservation management plan, together with a separate heritage application,for the Shepherds Hill sitewith the state government last December.

Work vehicles will be confined to the site.

Shepherds Hill Defence Group, as the cottage, battery observation post and gun placement are collectively known,sits on Crown Land for which Newcastle City Council is the trust manager.

The military installment wasdesigned to defend Newcastle’s burgeoning coal port after the 1878 Royal Commission into Colonial Defences. It served as an integral command position untilthe end of World War Two.

The observation post is one of the only coastal defence sites in Australia manned simultaneously during the war by the Royal Australian Navy, Army and Royal Australia Air Force.