Opinion by Margaret Clinch
‘Darwinians have always used the Darwin Waterfront as a family playground, particularly on warm evenings, and at weekends. They have often fought strongly to keep hold of its variety of treasured experiences.
It is close to home – a stone’s-throw away, especially if you live in the CBD.
Now that our ’new’ port at East Arm is well on its way to development, with responsibility for shipping with heavy duty wharf handling, there is really no reason why our people should not use our Darwin Waterfront at any time.
It has become even more a people place, instead of a partly industrial area.
Many people live in the residential developments. The Northern Territory Government promotes international visitors through the Convention Centre. There are a host of hospitality features, including two hotels, a raft of restaurants, cafes, and regular public events.
Recreational and play activities abound, particularly in and around the water, with fishing from wharves and water edges. Relaxing sky and water gazing are at their best.
Being Darwin’s first settlement site, and a World War II Bombing of Darwin hot spot, it can be even more be a focus for thousands of tourists who leave cruise ships for day visits.
People love to be near the sea. It is our common law right to freely use our foreshores.
Now that the construction of the luxury hotel has been delayed for some time, because of uncertain economic conditions, there is time for our Northern Territory Government, together with the hotel interests, to rethink the taking away of any of our precious foreshore from the people of Darwin.
As a starter to this conversation we note the opening words of Landbridge website: “At Landbridge we believe in putting capital and experience together with local know how to deliver positive outcomes. We invest for the long term which is why we invest in people, infrastructure and the community across all of our businesses”.
How would it be if the construction of this hotel really respects the community’s wishes on the foreshores, rather than standing hard and aloof.
The original flyer does indeed show a luxury hotel set well back from the sea edge, with children playing in the space before it.
The Darwin approach could be more targeted like that used recently by the Westin Hotel chain at the Coolum Hotel investment at Yaroomba Beach, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. That is one of productive consultation, and sharing with community.
But the immediate most pressing issue is to arrange the removal of the stained and unsightly construction fence around a large area of foreshore land, which is totally blocking the wonderful Darwin Harbour view at the corner of Kitchener Drive and Jervois Street.
Inside there are only a few concrete pipes. The construction huts were removed some time ago, and local residents observe the workers have long gone.
This is matter of safety.
This construction fence also cuts off the public coastal road to and from the cruise ship wharf, leaving only one road for the heavy traffic in buses, trucks, taxis, as well as cars serving the ships, carrying thousands of ship passengers.
What happens in the case of an accident or emergency ? Now with development suspended, this construction fence needs to go.
We therefore look on those responsible in the Northern Territory Government to move quickly resolve these two important matters. Please take this construction fence down. Concerned members of the community would be pleased to meet with anyone who needs more information.
Margaret Clinch came to Darwin from Sydney as founding librarian for what is now CSU. Over 25 years ago, the PLan: the Planning Action Network, Inc, began with her as convener, making use of planning knowledge from University of Sydney studies. Margaret is now deputy convener.
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