Port Stephens Council to form Heritage Advisory Group

Deirdre Hall and Glenn Short, co-owners of the historic Tanilba House, are excited at the formation of a Heritage Advisory Group.

THE Terms of Reference for the formation of a Heritage Advisory Group were endorsed at Port Stephens Council’s May 9 meeting.

The Group will offer Council a regular forum for discussion, consultation, collaboration and advice provided by interested members of the Port Stephens community concerning heritage matters.

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Local author John ‘Stinker’ Clarke addressed Council on the issue during public access, highlighting in his presentation the unique and diverse history of the Port Stephens region.

“The aim of the exercise is to bring us all together,” he said.

“This (group) would be a venue for all the historical societies to get together and share our stories and photographs so we can promote Port Stephens for the magnificent place it is.”

Deirdre Hall, the co-owner of the historic Tanilba House, built in 1831, also presented to councillors.

“Glenn (Short) and I are the very proud owners of Tanilba House.

“Taking on such a massive undertaking as that beautiful house, we are pretty passionate about history and heritage.

“Since owning the house, one of the things we have been delighted to learn about is Port Stephens more broadly, and just how rich the cultural heritage is in this beautiful region we call home.

“Local history contains a wealth of details and stories that help reveal how societal changes impact the lives of ordinary people.

“It always amazes us when we look at the history of Tanilba and our colonial past, the resilience and the tough life that our colonial forebears experienced.”

Ms Hall said the formation of a heritage group would allow Port Stephens to capitalise on cultural tourism opportunities.

“It gives us an opportunity to promote that (local history) to tourists,” she said.

“It is about documenting it and getting it out there, because we are the best kept secret from a historic perspective.
“We would love to be part of a group that protects our history for our next generation and particularly our children.”

Cr Jason Wells said the group would work together to ensure heritage items are recognized and valued.

“We know that local history and heritage artefacts are part of our cultural identity,” he said.

“They reflect the history, traditions and values of the community in which we live.

“They provide a sense of continuity and belonging.

“By preserving these artefacts, we are able to connect to our past and understand where we have come from.”

Cr Wells said that an understanding of local history builds “community pride”.

“By honouring and valuing the community’s past we can strengthen our bonds with one another and work towards a shared future.

“The Heritage Advisory Group will seek to do just that – bring groups from across Port Stephens together to build community pride.”

Cr Wells also spoke to the importance of history and heritage in educating local young people, and the various economic benefits of promoting the region’s cultural heritage for tourism.

Councillors voted unanimously in support of the motion.

John Clarke praised the work of Tanilba’s Denise Gaudion in progressing the project.

“It has really been driven by Denise.

“She has been striving for quite a period to establish a heritage committee under Port Stephens Council, so that committee members could gather to discuss the history of their particular area.

“There would be delegates from Karuah, Raymond Terrace, Nelson Bay etc.”

John told News Of The Area he hopes the formation of the Heritage Advisory Group will progress attempts to establish a museum in Port Stephens.

“What I am personally trying to achieve is for a museum to be established, maybe at the Tomaree Headland, that would encompass all of that information from throughout the Port.

“Port Stephens is starved of a museum, and starved of any recognition of Aboriginal people and pioneers who were originally in this district.

“Other areas throughout NSW have established museums and heritage groups, but Port Stephens is now just starting on that pathway,” John said.

Councillor Jason Wells will serve as the Group’s Chair, with Cr Peter Kafer as the alternate.

The Group will meet four times a year.

An Expressions of Interest process will be undertaken to select community members for the Group.


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