CURRENT STATUS OF TOMAREE LODGE

In 2015, the NSW state government announced that Tomaree Lodge would close to allow for the site to be redeveloped, and began privatising services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme and relocating residents to group homes. A local residents group, the Shoal Bay Community Association, raised concerns about the precinct being sold off to the highest bidder, and proposed that it be managed under a trust to preserve permanent public ownership. The facility is expected to close in 2020 upon the completion of the privatised group homes.

Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC) land in the vicinity includes the ten Tomaree Lodge accommodation buildings as well as a number of administrative and amenity buildings, and 8.8 hectares of landscaped (terraced) land on the western side of the headland. Land held by DADHC in this area accommodates a range of structures including a swimming pool, work sheds, a fisheries laboratory, and at least two relics associated with Fort Tomaree, namely the surf battery and the footings for a torpedo tube. The sealed access road to the site terminates in a cul-de-sac with accommodation buildings to the west and administrative buildings to the east.

The landscape of the site is terraced, with random rubble retaining walls and features mature Norfolk Island pines. The buildings on the site are mostly single-storey and the clustering of cottages used for accommodation provides a village atmosphere. A stone wall constructed by former residents runs along the foreshore of Shoal Bay.

The ten cottages, which collectively make up Tomaree Lodge, are single-storey weatherboard buildings on the western foreshore of the headland. Typically, these buildings are timber framed and are clad with weatherboard; they tend to have corrugated metal gable roofs. Those built on the embankment have un-rendered or painted brick bases, or engaged brick piers. A number of the cottages have fixed awnings and some retain timber framed double-hung sash windows. Ramps to the buildings, often with timber balustrades provide equitable access to the accommodation.

Internally the cottages typically have timber floors and internal gyprock lining. Building 8 has caneite ceilings, wood grained panelling and exposed trusses. Previously, most of these buildings had internal lining containing asbestos which has been replaced. Internally Building 4 seems to retain the most intact room layout, although the doors have been extended.

Various alterations to the cottages have taken place; the footprint of the cottages extended, alterations made to the roofs or modifications to doors, windows and other fittings. Various modifications have been made to both the site and buildings to allow equitable access, including installation of ramps and widening of doors. Services have been updated and verandahs have sometimes been enclosed and original windows replaced with aluminium-framed glazing. Some of the cottages elevated on brick piers have had brick enclosures built below.

The site contains a range of distinctive features relating to its earlier uses including fortifications and installations, roads, gun placements, and a random rubble walled battery. On the headland's rock platform are random rubble terracing, drains, a roadway and sea walls.

Tomaree Lodge adjoins the Tomaree National Park. The native vegetation of the Tomaree Peninsula is predominantly woodland with a number of identified rare and/or threatened plant species local to this area. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage / National Parks and Wildlife Service considers the natural areas have a high conservation value.

Condition

As at 3 September 2008, Tomaree Lodge comprises a range of buildings dating from its use as an army garrison during the First World War. The buildings are generally in good condition.

The DADHC lands surrounding Tomaree Lodge have high archaeological potential, high archaeological research value and high heritage significance. There are likely to be archaeological remains of the Fort Tomaree Battery Camp, established on the headland in WWII. The camp was adjacent to the torpedo tubes and gun emplacement at the end of the headland and the remains would partly extend into the national park. Evidence may include building footings, artifact deposits, underground services and evidence of changes to the landscape including terracing. There may also be concrete bases and fixtures from searchlight towers, gun platforms and other defence works.

The slope up behind the former Infantry Camp (now Tomaree Lodge) is also likely to contain archaeological evidence associated with the camp and Tomaree Battery, similar to that described above for the Battery Camp. Although the area has been heavily disturbed by WWII activity, given its location it is possible there may be remnant evidence of Aboriginal occupation of the area.

One of the conservation strategies in the endorsed Conservation Management Plan (CMP) prepared for Tomaree Head National Park in 1999 was the systematic site recording and assessment by a qualified Historical Archaeologist for the whole site. A detailed archaeological assessment of this site is recommended in conjunction with the adjoining national park lands.

Tomaree Lodge is a functioning Large Residential Centre which means that most of the buildings on the site are in good working order. Even though many buildings have undergone alterations and additions, the original form of the buildings is generally discernible.

Tomaree Lodge is one of the few known surviving examples of this type of purpose-built accommodation for the military in the State. There are relatively few intact former World War Two army camps in New South Wales.

Modifications

The original ex-World War Two Australian Army garrison camp at Tomaree Head was modified for use as a hospital in the 1950s.The site has been added to over the second half of the twentieth century to accommodate changing hospital needs, as outlined below.

Modifications to the site have included:

  • 1950-1955 (by staff and DPWS) - army huts on hill demolished, rebuilt in modernised form to provide additional accommodation. New recreation hall built from salvaged material. Garages workshops and other building similarly built. Terracing, gardens, drainage, roads, rock work on original pool, land forming to Zenith Beach.

  • 1950-55 (DPWS) - major construction work including renovations, conversions of huts to staff cottages, wharf, swimming pools.

  • 1953-55 - 2 tennis courts, concrete cricket pitch.

  • 1965 - new swimming pool and facilities.

  • 1966 - administration building, new kitchens, dining room and balconies.

  • 1990s - land transferred to NPWS as part of Tomaree Head National Park.

ABOUT US

The Tomaree Museum Association Incorporated aims to develop a  regional museum and interpretative centre to document, protect and promote the history and changing natural environment of Port Stephens.

CONTACT US

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF TRADITIONAL CUSTODIANS

The Tomaree Museum Association acknowledges the Worimi people, the traditional owners and custodians of the land and waters upon which Tomaree Museum stands. We should like to pay our respect to the Elders past and present, and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this website contains a range of material which may be culturally sensitive including records of people who may have passed away.

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