Historic cottage gets overhaul

10 July 2017

Newcastle City Council will begin renovation work today on a historic building that has stood watch over the city from atop King Edward Park since the 1890s.

Shepherds Hill Cottage, once a mess hall for officers responsible for the city's coastal defences, will be restored to its original condition in a meticulous refurbishment project after storm damage forced its closure in April 2015.

The restoration comes as the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) considers a plan for the future use of the timber cottage and wider State Heritage-listed Shepherds Hill Defence Group site.

Including a new roof and plumbing, repair of wooden windows and renewal of cladding, posts and beams, the overhaul will also see unauthorised extensions made by various tenants demolished.

"The restoration of Shepherds Hill Cottage is another exciting project at an exciting time in Newcastle's history," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"All works to be undertaken to restore the building will be overseen by a heritage architect.

"The cottage is a community asset and focal point courtesy of its location at the top of King Edward Park on the Bathers Way.

"We are currently building the latest link from Strzelecki Lookout to near the Shepherds Hill facility before the final, most complex section through King Edward Park delivers Newcastle a coastal pathway to rival any in Australia."

Council gained approval for the restoration project, which will see work vehicles confined to the site, when it submitted a separate section 60 application together with the conservation management plan to OEH for the Defence Group site last year.

Council officers are currently working through initial feedback provided on the Conservation Management Plan by OEH

The draft plan was forwarded to OEH in December after a month-long public exhibition period and community information sessions during the drafting stage.

Shepherds Hill Defence Group sits on Crown Land for which Newcastle City Council is the Trust Manager.

The cottage, battery observation post and gun emplacement were originally designed to defend Newcastle's burgeoning coal port after the 1878 Royal Commission into Colonial Defences.

The military site served as an integral command position up to the end of World War Two.

The observation post is one of the only coastal defence sites in Australia manned simultaneously during World War Two by the Royal Australian Navy, Army and Royal Australia Air Force.