South Head Master Plan

National Parks and Wildlife Service has finalised the South Head Master Plan.

The South Head Master Plan has been developed through extensive site investigations, analysis with community and stakeholder consultation and feedback since mid-2021. The result is a master plan that creates a long-term framework for South Head, Gap Bluff and Green Point precincts of Sydney Harbour National Park (Watsons Bay).

This area receives over half a million visitors each year, and this master plan will guide us to deliver a recreational precinct that celebrates its rich culture, heritage and natural landscape.

Why was the South Head Master Plan prepared?

The South Head Master Plan is a non-statutory document that draws on the outcomes of the Sydney Harbour Plan of Management 2012 and the South Head Conservation Management Plan 2008 to outline a vision to guide how an area may change over time.

The master plan documents the changes we need to make to South Head, Gap Bluff and Green Point precincts to achieve our plan of management outcomes and support visitation for the next 20 years.

The master plan identifies the upgrade of visitor facilities, walking tracks (including the Sydney Harbour Scenic Walk), interpretation, wayfinding, and public safety to enhance the experience for visitors. The master plan considers how we can achieve these upgrades whilst protecting and conserving the precinct's natural, cultural and historic heritage.

The master plan reviewed the buildings across the sites and suggests uses for these buildings that are consistent with the plan of management, permissible under the National Parks Act, suitable for the buildings' intended purpose and condition, and are appropriate for each location.

National Parks and Wildlife Service worked with consultants TKD Architects, Context, and PlanCom Consulting to deliver the master plan.

Map showing the location and extent of the master plan (in red outline).

The master plan process commenced in mid 2021. Until early 2022 the focus was on initial investigations, community consultation (including a survey and 2 workshops) and analysis of the information received during this project phase.

The draft South Head Master Plan was designed and went on exhibition for community feedback between Tuesday 26 April 2022 and Monday 30 May 2022. Feedback received from this project stage informed the final designs in the master plan, which has now been finalised.

Implementation of the South Head Master Plan is expected to be delivered in stages over several years, subject to available funding and completion of environmental assessment before works commencing.

The master plan provides a revitalised vision for visitor experience and interpretation of the site that draws on this unique national park's historic, cultural and natural values. Consideration of these values were strongly supported by the community during consultation for the master plan designs.

The master plan has been underpinned by the guiding principles identified in the Sydney Harbour National Park Plan of Management (2012), which include:

  • conserve natural and cultural heritage
  • manage sustainably
  • improve accessibility
  • welcome all visitors
  • improve transport linkages
  • conserve for the future
  • partnerships and collaborations.

The master plan is consistent with the Sydney Harbour National Park Plan of Management. Construction will be subject to rigorous environmental and heritage approvals before commencing. This includes consideration under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the NSW Heritage Act 1977 and the Commonwealth Environmental Planning and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

South Head Master Plan was informed by a process of consultation with the local community, stakeholders and relevant agencies. This occurred at 3 key project stages:

  • during the design of the master plan
  • during the exhibition of the draft master plan
  • finalising the master plan.

Community consultation during the design of the master plan took the form of an online survey (24 September-29 October) with a total of 479 respondents and 2 online workshops with 25 attendees at each workshop (11 and 16 October 2021).

In response to the exhibition of the draft master plan (26 April 2022 – 30 May 2022) there were 135 responses to the online survey and 27 written submissions from a range of individuals, visitors, local government representatives, park stakeholder groups and local action groups. Written submissions generally supported the survey results but expanded upon the reasoning.

For a more detailed overview of the community and stakeholder consultation, please refer to the South Head Master Plan Community Consultation Summary and the South Head Master Plan – Exhibition submissions report.

A stakeholder reference group was established to be a key consultative body for the project, and the group assisted in delivering the project by providing input and advice to National Parks and Wildlife Service. The group met at each of the 3 key project stages and consisted of representatives from government, industry and local community groups. Key South Head precinct stakeholders that participated in the consultation process included:

  • HMAS Watson
  • La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council
  • NPWS Greater Sydney Regional Advisory Committee
  • Office of The Hon. Gabrielle Upton
  • Sydney Game Fishing Club
  • Sydney Harbour Federation Trust
  • Sydney Harbour Association
  • Watsons Bay Association
  • Woollahra Council