SUNDAY 6 May 1918 is the accepted date for when the Port Stephens waterfront village of North Arm Cove began life as Port Stephens City.
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The celebrated Canadian Town Planner Walter Burley-Griffin designed this location and presented his plan to the Stroud Shire Council on this date 100 years ago which included a railway line, government administrative area, a port location, all to be developed around his concept of circular roads surrounding important elements of the City, very much in the same way he had designed our National Capital of Canberra some 5 years or so, earlier.
Of course this was not the first time when the area now known as North Arm Cove was settled by people associated with the AA Company, just down the track at TAHLEE and Carrington where they were granted 1 million acres by the British Crown in 1824 and arrived in Port Stephens a year later.
Even previously to this event, Captain Cook in 1770 had noticed campfire smoke in this general area, obviously belonging to aboriginal people living here.
Then followed soldiers and convicts to be involved with the AA Company and again followed by timber getters harvesting cedar trees.
So we can claim continuous settlement around North Arm Cove for the last 194 years.
So where are we now?
We have a village of some 300 houses, half of which are held by permanent residents and half by holiday ownerships many of whom come here regularly from Sydney’s northern suburbs which is an easy 2 hours car drive each way for them on the M1 Motorway.
We have about 300 adults who vote at each election time, some of whom are families with children, all of whom make up our community of people who just love and appreciate our waterfront location.
Residents involvement has provided a Community Hall, a volunteer run library, a first class tennis court with lighting for night use ,a rural bushfire brigade with purpose built premises and good equipment, a children’s play area and of course our own beachfront location at Heros Beach.
We don’t have any shops,service stations or similar commercial businesses. Our coffee shop was great whilst it lasted but small communities find it difficult to attract then maintain these facilities.
We don’t have Council provided water or sewage facilities but seem to get along just fine with water tanks and pump-out or absorption wastewater systems.
The major missing facility for our village is an effective safe and reliable access to the waters of Port Stephens, so we are looking at having a trailer boat ramp and a jetty provided for local use so that the non waterfront residents can enjoy the amenity of the water, which surely is the reason why they originally purchased property here.
Our future is about preserving our way of life in this magic location.
Being aware that the nations expanding population will create pressures to develop the non urban lands that surround the Cove which has the potential to markedly change our present lifestyle.
The lack of effective employment nearby could be one of our saving graces as also will be the cost of providing necessary services to an expanding community.
However the changing population mix is most evident with city based professionals now being seen to purchase the better waterfront properties but pleased to say that they are fitting into our lifestyles which no doubt they really appreciate.
I can only see North Arm Cove as being a more sought after location as time and pressures evolve in the more heavily populated cities & suburbs of Sydney and Newcastle which proves that buying real estate and living at North Arm Cove is a safe and financially responsible place to be for generations to come.
By John BLACKBOURN