Karuah and District RSL is a little club with a big heart.
Since taking over as Secretary Manager almost two years ago, Ross Parr takes great pride in the club’s contribution to the community – not only through financial assistance to local organisations and charities, but as the centrepiece of Karuah’s economic and social fabric.
The club is the town’s biggest employer with 30 workers from bar staff to chefs, all from Karuah or surrounding towns.
It has a central role in the operation of the Karuah Chamber of Commerce, with Ross recently elected president.
And in the last financial year, the club contributed more than $26,000 to the community, supporting sporting organisations, schools, the indigenous community and seniors, to name a few.
“We only donate to local charities in the local area,” Ross said.
“If it wasn’t for the RSL, a lot of funding would be missing out of the town.”
And the town duly loves the club in return, with membership standing at 1800 – an increase of about 250 people since Ross came on board, bringing 20 years of experience in the clubs industry.
Ross said there had been a conscious effort to continually improve on the services to members and guests.
As well as introducing new technology, such as Wi-Fi, the club has developed its dining experience.
“Our restaurant is one of the best in the area. We’ve worked very hard with our caterers and we have a couple of chefs working with us who came from Chinatown in Sydney,” Ross said.
“We have a $15 all-you-can-eat on Tuesday nights, and even half a lobster for $18.”
It is measures like these that are broadening the appeal of the club beyond Karuah.
The club has made moves to expand its membership base, targeting Medowie.
“With Medowie not having a club, we’ve been running courtesy buses four days a week and that is starting to grow,” Ross said.
Businesses and organisations such as the Australian Navy have also discovered what the RSL, and the township itself have to offer, regularly choosing Karuah for conferences and other events.
“We’re happy to have any businesses come up here – we have seminar facilities and meeting rooms that can be used for a range of events such as team building days. Our function room holds a couple of hundred people,” Ross said.
“There are three motels and three caravan parks in the town, so accommodation is covered.”
The 2013 Port Stephens Mayoral Academic Scholarships have been presented in style, with 10 students recognised at the official awards ceremony this month.
The successful students were chosen from 40 applicants and represent a wide range of career aspirations, from working as a human rights lawyer in the UN to painting an entry in the Archibald Prize.
Each recipient was presented with a $2000 one-year scholarship to help pay for costs associated with their tertiary education, as well as membership to YMCA Port Stephens at the ceremony at the Port Stephens Council Chamber on 8 April.
Port Stephens Mayor, Cr Bruce MacKenzie, paid tribute to 11 Port Stephens businesses and organisations that partnered with Port Stephens Council to run the program.
They were Ampcontrol, Sandvik, Newcastle Airport, Tomago Aluminium, Hunter Land, Moonshadow Cruises and Port Stephens 4WD Tours, Macka’s Sand and Soil Supplies, Raymond Terrace Business Association, Nelson Bay and District Business Chamber, Destination Port Stephens and YMCA Port Stephens.
“The Port Stephens Mayoral Academic Scholarships is one of my favourite programs of Council, and that’s because we get to meet people who are going to go on to achieve amazing things – and they all have their roots in Port Stephens,” Cr MacKenzie said.
“There were 40 applicants to the program this year, and all of them would have been worthy recipients and excellent ambassadors for Port Stephens.
“I congratulate all of those students on their achievements to date, and wish them all the best for the success that is to come.
“I also want to pay a special tribute to the businesses who partner with Council to run this program. Without your support, it would not happen.
“I commend you on your commitment to the future business and community leaders of Port Stephens, and look forward to working with you into the future.”
The 2013 Mayoral Academic Scholarship recipients are:
Tomago Aluminium Scholarship: Imogen Ewing; Bachelor of Science, University of NSW
Nelson Bay and District Business Chamber Scholarship: Naomi Weber; Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (Clinical Exercise Physiology), University of New England
Newcastle Airport Scholarship: Giacomo Arnott; Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Business, University of Newcastle
Destination Port Stephens Scholarship: Mitchell Wilson; Bachelor of Combined Law (Arts/Law), University of NSW
Sandvik Scholarship: Jacob Campbell; Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor Economics, Australian National University
Macka’s Soil and Sand Supplies: Breeann Plummer; Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Radiation Therapy), University of Newcastle
Hunter Land Scholarship: Ellie Gillett; Bachelor of Psychology, University of Newcastle
Moonshadow Cruises and Port Stephens 4WD Tours Scholarship: Lily Ward; Visual Arts Diploma (Hunter Institute of TAFE)
Raymond Terrace Business Association Scholarship: Aden Kittel; Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Newcastle
Ampcontrol Scholarship: Brittany Trudgett; Marketing and Media (Macquarie University)
From Seaham to Salamander Bay, residents and businesses across Port Stephens are being encouraged to play a role in promoting the region’s tourism industry.
The first draft of a Destination Management Plan for Port Stephens is scheduled to be unveiled in May, and author Tars Bylhouwer is hoping for plenty of feedback.
The Destination Port Stephens Marketing Manager said the DMP is a document that affects the community as a whole.
“We would really encourage people to look at the draft – everyone including residents, businesses and tourism operators,” he said.
“In essence a Destination Management Plan is about managing the destination, how we brand it, how we present it.
“It covers a lot of things from customer service in Raymond Terrace to how people are treated on a boat in Nelson Bay.
“So far there has been consultation right across the local government area.
“But what I do need is people to take ownership of it – in an ideal world, everyone would have some comment on it.”
A Destination Management Plan is a business plan for building and managing the visitor economy for a destination.
The five-year plan for Port Stephens will examine the significance of Port Stephens as a destination, who is holidaying in the area, the structure of tourism in Port Stephens and current marketing activities.
For more information about the plan, contact Tars on 4980 6905 or email email@example.com
Businesses and residents in Port Stephens have until 3 May to provide input into the preparation of a strategy to guide the growth of the Lower Hunter for the next 20 years.
With the region’s population projected to grow from 540,000 to up to 670,000 people in the next 20 years, NSW Planning and Infrastructure unveiled a discussion paper to stimulate discussion and ideas for housing, jobs, transport, community infrastructure and the environment.
The information will feed into a new Lower Hunter Regional Strategy.
The discussion paper identifies Raymond Terrace as a major centre for the Lower Hunter, along with Maitland, Cessnock, Charlestown and Glendale/Cardiff.
It said the new Strategy would guide “future planning and investment decisions covering housing, economic development and jobs, open space and the transport to connect our homes, jobs, education and recreation facilities” across the region.
As well as community input, the outcomes and objectives of the new Strategy would be shaped by NSW2012, the state government’s 10-year plan to rebuild the economy, provide quality services, renovate infrastructure, restore government accountability and strengthen our local environment and communities; as well as the Long Term Transport Master Plan, the State Infrastructure Strategy and the Hunter Infrastructure Plan.
Port Stephens Council’s Community Strategic Plan will also inform the preparation of the new Lower Hunter Regional Strategy and provide a framework for cooperation between State agencies and local government.
The state government is encouraging input into the preparation of the new strategy from people in Port Stephens about their priorities for the area and the wider Lower Hunter Region.
To have your say, or to hear what others are saying, visit planning.nsw.gov.au/lowerhunter to take part in a discussion forum, watch a video or download a copy of the community brochure.
Submissions can also be made by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Newcastle office, PO Box 1226, Newcastle, NSW, 2300.
A Submissions Report will be issued after the exhibition period.
From major infrastructure projects to additional education facilities, the Port Stephens Economic Development Advisory Panel (EDAP) has devised a list of critical projects that it believes are needed to further encourage job creation and prosperity in the area.
EDAP Chairman David Williams officially launched the “6 Big Ideas to Grow Port Stephens” at the Port Stephens Business Leaders Lunch, on 28 March at The Anchorage Port Stephens, Corlette.
Included on the list the panel will champion in coming years is the realisation of the F3 extension to Raymond Terrace, an upgraded Nelson Bay Road and a new TAFE campus in Port Stephens.
The list also calls for the state to review and improvement of public transport links to Tomago, Newcastle and Maitland.
Mr Williams said identifying and advocating for essential pieces of infrastructure or facilities needed to grow the Port Stephens economy was a major focus for the EDAP panel.
Members of the panel are appointed by Port Stephens Council based on their capability and expertise to contribute to the economic development of Port Stephens, with a brief to provide leadership and guidance to Council on business and industry matters, as well as to promote Port Stephens to investors.
Mr Williams said most of the projects on the list would come as no surprise to many, and some have long been on the drawing board.
“The list of 6 Big Ideas covers a range of projects from road upgrades to education facilities, that we believe will build on the economic development of Port Stephens and encourage job creation and prosperity,” he said.
“These projects have become increasingly important in the context of the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy and the outcomes set for Port Stephens by the State Government, as well as growing competition for business and investment.”
Mr Williams also acknowledged the projects on the list would require funding and input from varying levels of Government.
“We don’t pretend that any of these projects can happen overnight – they will be long term initiatives,” he said.
“But, we can’t afford to sit back and wait for someone else to advocate for change.
“The key role for EDAP now, having developed this list of 6 Big Ideas to Grow Port Stephens, is to present the list to those key stakeholders, along with our case as to why these facilities and improvements are required for the future growth of Port Stephens.”
The list in priority order is:
1. Complete upgrade Nelson Bay Road
The NSW 2012-13 State Budget has confirmed funding for a four lane divided road upgrade of Nelson Bay Road, between Bobs Farm and Anna Bay – a road used by 10,000 vehicles daily, which doubles during the peak summer period. It is the only route servicing the Tomaree Peninsula and various townships between Newcastle and Nelson Bay. The upgrade will deliver Improved safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, better bays for bus passengers, reduced traffic delays and more reliable travel times for motorists.
2. Dual lane road infrastructure from the Tourle street bridge through to Newcastle Airport
The Tourle Street provides a direct link north to the Pacific Highway and is the main thoroughfare linking Newcastle to the airport as well as to central and eastern Port Stephens.
The two lane configuration is viewed as inadequate to accommodate current and future levels of traffic, particularly in light of projects and initiatives that will drive business and employment growth in the Defence Airport Related Economic Zone (DAREZ), which encompasses Newcastle Airport and the Royal Australian Air Force base at Williamtown which has a forecast for an employment increase of 5,000 people.
3. F3 Extension to Raymond Terrace
The F3 to Raymond Terrace extension has been proposed since 2004. It is identified as a priority roads project by the NRMA and included in Infrastructure NSW’s 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy to be built within the next 10 years.
The stretch of road between the F3 and the Hexham Bridge carries all north-south and east-west traffic and it’s becoming more and more of a bottleneck.The upgrade would improve safety on the road, provide uninterrupted highway traffic flow, allow easy access on and off the highway for local traffic and improve the connection between the F3 Freeway and the Pacific Highway
4. Increase TAFE facilities in Port Stephens – new campus
Continued industry growth with a projected population increase of 24,000 by 2031 provides the rationale for the establishment of a new stand-alone TAFE campus in Port Stephens, with a focus on trades/skills relevant to the regional economy that will meet the growing demand for skilled workers.
5. Review and improve Public Transport links to Tomago, Airport, Ports, Newcastle and Maitland
Sustainable economic development in the Port Stephens will be directly impacted through the provision of sustainable transport, and in particular effective public transport. Improved flexibility of public transport services from towns in Port Stephens to key service, employment and educational facilities will be vital to the connectedness and liveability of Port Stephens in the future. Improved transport connectivity will also enable productivity and growth in the Newcastle airport and RAAF Base precinct at Williamtown.
6. Alesco centre for Raymond Terrace to support disengaged youth
Alesco learning centres provide an appropriate learning environment for students who are otherwise disengaged from traditional, mainstream education. A successful campus is currently set up in Cooks Hill and there is a strong case for another to be established in Raymond Terrace given the town’s demographics. The Hunter has low school retention rates and this is certainly reflected in Raymond Terrace. Re-engaging young people must be a priority for our community. Alesco provides one of those opportunities; it is a very effective model with a great track record.
In a world only too aware of its carbon footprint, Weathertex at Heatherbrae is leading the world in the supply of a sustainable building product to the construction industry.
The factory housing the Weathertex operation has existed since 1939, but the modern emphasis on the environment has generated a new demand for the hardwood timber weatherboards and architectural panels that have been produced at the site since 1964.
Consisting of 97% hardwood and 3% paraffin wax, the result is an exterior grade product resistant to water that is produced nowhere else in the world.
Weathertex Executive Chairman Paul Michael is understandably passionate about the Heatherbrae operation that he bought 14 years ago.
He credited the green revolution with regenerating demand for Weathertex as the construction industry searched for sustainable building products, residential building is shifting from traditional bricks and tiles to more lightweight materials as new design trends emerged.
The changing construction climate prompted a shift in the Weathertex business model “from an engineering business that happens to sell its product, to a sales and marketing business that happens to produce its own product”.
“We are a 100% sustainable product, and the only products that can say that in the world are timber products,” Paul said.
“We did an audit when [then Prime Minister] Rudd began talking about the carbon tax, and then we did an analysis – which we had verified by an external consultant – so we know the amount of CO2 generated during the manufacture process and also sequestered in our product, hence we know we have a slightly better than zero carbon impact.”
The company employs 95 workers, with 80% of the product produced supplying the Australian market and the remaining 20% exported to countries such as France, Holland, Spain, New Caledonia, Tahiti, New Zealand, Indonesia, Vietnam and India.
Other factories in North America tried to copy Weathertex, but their products were vulnerable to moisture.
The secret to the Weathertex manufacturing process is what are believed to be the only remaining operational Masonite guns in the world, remnants of the factory’s origins as a Masonite factory.
“They pulp the timber more severely, which enables us to take all the sugar and starch out – which are what water loves,” Paul said.
“And because we put more wax into it, those two things together give you a weatherproof, exterior grade product.”
The 2013 Port Stephens Mayoral Academic Scholarships attracted a huge response from the local government area’s highest achievers, with successful applicants to be announced at a presentation ceremony in April.
A total of 10 scholarships worth $2000 each are to be awarded as part of the program, which was open to residents of Port Stephens embarking on their first year of tertiary education in 2013.
And for the first time in the history of the scholarships, successful applicants will also receive a 12-month membership to YMCA facilities in Port Stephens.
Sponsors joining with Port Stephens Council to present the 2013 program are Ampcontrol, Newcastle Airport, Sandvik, Tomago Aluminium, Hunter Land, Moonshadow Cruises & Port Stephens 4WD Tours, Macka’s Sand and Soil Supplies, Raymond Terrace Business Association, Nelson Bay and District Business Chamber, Port Stephens Tourism Limited and the YMCA Port Stephens.
Council was inundated with applications on the closing date of 22 February, from students whose aspirations ranged from becoming a role model to future generations as a teacher in local schools, to working in the international criminal court in The Hague.
Mayor Bruce MacKenzie will join sponsors to present the scholarships to successful students at a special presentation ceremony at the Port Stephens Council Chamber.
Businesses interested in being part of the 2014 Port Stephens Mayoral Academic Scholarships can contact Briony O’Hara by emailing briony.o’email@example.com or call 4987 3785.
For anyone who has ever had a great idea for Raymond Terrace or Heatherbrae, now is the time for action.
A suite of possibilities for the future of the towns has been unveiled in the next step of a 25-year Strategy, and Port Stephens Council wants to add your vision to the list.
Almost 100 people turned out at a Council-sponsored Raymond Terrace Business Association networking breakfast on 5 March for the launch of the Raymond Terrace and Heatherbrae Strategy Discussion Paper, designed to stimulate a community discussion about a vision for the area.
Council is encouraging businesses and residents to take advantage of an innovative web-based map to highlight areas they like in Raymond Terrace and Heatherbrae, what they see as issues and what is missing by visiting www.collaborativemap.org/raymondheatherbrae.
Comments on the discussion paper can also be made in writing or by email.
Council’s Group Manager Development Services Mike McIntosh told the breakfast the Strategy was a long-term plan that would build on the strengths and opportunities that were unique to the area – and which gave Raymond Terrace and Heatherbrae a competitive edge.
“What would encourage more investment to Raymond Terrace and Heatherbrae? What would make us invest in here over other localities in the Hunter region?” he said.
One answer was the proximity of the airport.
The riverfront was also a natural asset for Raymond Terrace, along with Council landholdings in the town centre – namely land fronting Adelaide, William and Sturgeon streets identified as a “gateway development site”, and land behind the Council administration building that could be used for mixed use or a medium density housing complex.
Mike said opportunities in Heatherbrae included expanding the retail offering to encompass more bulky goods retailing.
He encouraged businesses and residents to take a fresh look at Raymond Terrace and Heatherbrae, and to pass on their great ideas by 2 May.
“The more feedback we can get through that, the better decisions we can make for the community,” Mike said.
“We’re here to listen – we really want to work through the issues, big or small.”
The discussion Paper is available at the Council Administration building or the Council’s website www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au.
How to comment
Pin your idea or comment on the online map www.collaborativemap.org/raymondheatherbrae
* IN WRITING
Send comments marked “Raymond Terrace and Heatherbrae Strategy” to:
MAIL: PO Box 42 Raymond Terrace NSW 2324
Contact Council’s Strategic Planning Section on 4980 0326
The developers of the Williamtown Aerospace Centre have used the Southern Hemisphere’s largest civil and military aviation show to announce the project’s first tenant.
Canberra-based CEA Technologies will be the first business to move into the 100 hectare development neighbouring Newcastle Airport following an announcement at the 2013 Australian International Airshow held at Avalon Airport from 26 February to 3 March.
Representatives from Port Stephens Council, Newcastle City Council, the University of Newcastle, Hunter Land, Varley Aerospace, Newcastle Airport and Singleton Council represented the Williamtown Aerospace Centre and Hunter Defence consortium at the prestigious event, held biennially.
Defence, aerospace and aviation industries from across Australia and the world attended the six-day airshow, along with hundreds of thousands of aircraft enthusiasts.
Newcastle MP Tim Owen was at the Williamtown Aerospace Centre and Hunter Defence stand to hear the announcement of the development’s first tenant.
CEA Technologies, an Australian company specialising in military and civil electronics, radar and communication systems, recently wrote to Hunter Land with a letter of intent to lease office space in the Williamtown Aerospace Centre and add Port Stephens to its facilities in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Maryland (USA) along with its head office in Canberra.
CEA Technologies will use its Williamtown base to support the development of its aerospace business, including in-service support to RAAF programs.
A Mercure hotel and conference centre will be part of the first stage of the Aerospace Centre, with construction of individual lots to begin mid-year.
Average salaries in Port Stephens are steadily increasing as the number of wage and salary earners in the local government area remain consistent.
Latest estimates of personal income for geographical areas issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently showed the average wage and salary income for residents of Port Stephens was $44,875 in 2009-10, an increase of 17.74% from $36,914 in 2005-06.
Port Stephens boasted one of the highest rates of increase in the five-year period among Hunter councils, rating behind Singleton (21.04%) and Maitland (18.3%) and ahead of Newcastle (16.8%).
The average wage and salary income increased steadily across the years, reaching $43,123 in 2006-07, $44,930 in 2007-08, and $48,252 in 2008-09.
Income from wages and salaries across the entire local government area in 2009-10 topped a combined total of $1.17 billion.
The number of wage and salary earners in Port Stephens increased from 24,084 in 2005-06 to 24,620 in 2006-07 and a high of 26,133 in 2007-08.
That number dropped slightly to 25,376 in 2008-09 and levelled at 26,129 in 2009-10.