Dorrigo Helipad upgraded and open to emergency services

Former Rotary Club of Dorrigo President Nick Young, who ran the original project for the first helipad in Dorrigo, Rotary Club of Dorrigo President David Woodroof, Bellingen Shire Mayor Cr Steve Allan and Member for Oxley Michael Kemp cutting the ribbon to officially open the new helipad.

EMERGENCY response capabilities for the Dorrigo plateau community have taken a leap forward with the refurbishment of their emergency services helipad.

The helipad now meets Civil Aviation Safety Authority standards, addressing the inadequacies of the previous structure.

Fresco Market PlaceAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

Having completed the ‘Rotary Club of Dorrigo Aeromedical Evacuation Retrieval and Rescue’ facility, clear and effective access is now available to all emergency services to utilise for their life saving and emergency needs.

The facility will be used by NSW Ambulance, State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS), Fire and Rescue NSW and Police.

To explain the importance of having this availability on the plateau, a flight to Coffs Harbour takes fifteen minutes and could be the difference between life and death over an ambulance trip down the mountain on Waterfall Way in wet and windy conditions, especially if there has been a landslide.

Many patients living on the plateau have experienced this.

Rotary Club of Dorrigo President David Woodroof presided over a celebratory gathering for the opening of the newly upgraded helipad facility on Wednesday 20 May.

He welcomed Bellingen Shire Mayor Cr Steve Allan, who officially opened the facility, unveiled the new plaque and cut the ribbon at the site.

The Mayor then spoke and praised the efforts of the Rotary Club of Dorrigo and community for driving the project.

“This has been a wonderful community-led project with important outcomes for our residents,” he said.

“This now is a modern helipad that is fit for purpose and able to service the Dorrigo community in times of emergency and make us more resilient in times of disaster,” he said.

Powered by the Rotary Club of Dorrigo, the project has seen multiple agencies working together to achieve this outcome.

Funding contributions came from NSW Government’s Community Development Fund ($119,105), Rotary Club of Dorrigo ($25,000), Bellingen Red Cross ($5,000) and Bellingen Shire Council ($35,000).

Representatives from all organisations were present for the gathering at the helipad as well as members of the local RFS and SES, local Aboriginal artist Uncle Allan Phillips, students and teachers from Dorrigo Public School and representatives from Dorrigo High School.

Rotarian Alison Pattinson (now deceased) was instrumental in applying for the first grant after formalising and updating all the requirements for this Bellingen Shire asset on Crown Land.

While this first application was not successful, all her hard work did not go astray.

Rotarian Sara Hankin took up the challenge and broke the original quote down into bite sized chunks and applied for multiple grants to fulfil the requirements.

Rotarian David Scott was instrumental in obtaining the funds from Bellingen Red Cross.

The last lot of grant funding of $119,000 was awarded to Bellingen Shire Council by MP Kevin Andrews in February 2023.

The facility now has new lights, beacon, sock, solar lane entry lights, pad increased in size with increased load-bearing surface, engineering specs and height, drainage management around the pad, new signage and an official plaque.

Essentially the only things original are the power box which will be covered with artwork by local indigenous artist Uncle Allan Philips, and some of the laneway at the location.

Uncle Allan told News Of The Area, “The artwork will be a representation of the plateau and the communities on the plat-eau and about healing, how we’re all one mob.”

Present at the opening ceremony Member for Oxley Michael Kemp told NOTA, “To be able to evacuate people safety whenever it is needed is amazing.

“The most important thing is the feeling of community safety,” he said.

He also praised the collaborative work of Bellingen Shire Council in auspicing the grants to give greater impact.

The original Helipad was opened for use in 2003 after being funded and built by Rotary Club of Dorrigo in conjunction with Dorrigo Plateau Lions Club and the Dorrigo Community.

The Helipad fell into disrepair over a number of years until it did not meet the current standards.

Many letters of support from local community groups and organisations helped greatly to keep the momentum up.

Removal of the old cricket nets by Rotarians in October 2020 were the first ground works undertaken.

COVID, floods, drainage challenges and relentless inclement weather specific to Dorrigo hampered the commencement of works by Bellingen Shire Council which finally began in January 2023.

Bellingen Shire Council has been instrumental in carrying out works for the upgrade utilising a number of speciality engineers and teams.


Leave a Reply