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Proposal: Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Visitor Centre in Kurrajong Heights

In 2002 the NSW State Government planned to construct a $1.7 million Visitor Centre and working offices for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in the Bilpin region. The site was to be located on Bell's Line of Road, at a truck stop near Bilpin overlooking the southern edge of the Wollemi National Park.

 

A competition was run to design the visitor centre, with the architect team Lindsay Johnson and David Moir announced as the winners on 13 Jan 2004.  It is estimated that around $800,000 was invested in the planning and development of the project, however the remaining funding for its completed was diverted to another project in the lead up to the State election in 2005.
 

Now, 18 years later there are calls for the state  government to make funding available for the construction of the visitor centre. Funding the completion of the project would provide an enhanced visitor experience and support for the growing tourism economy along Bells Line of Road.

In 2020 Hawkesbury Council has passed a resolution to support the project completion of thew NPWS World Heritage Visitor Centre, stating "this project should be rejuvenated again to encourage visitation to our beautiful region and capitalise on work already undertaken.

Hawkesbury City Council further stated that the NPWS Visitor Centre "would become a focal point of the region."

 

The project has additional benefits, such as providing a dedicated local National Parks and Wildlife Service base for bushfire mitigation works / hazard reduction. The centre could  also facilitate environmental research and management of the Wollemi National Park.

A 2023 survey conducted by Bells Line of Road Business Council, found that the overwhelming majority of respondents (80%) supported a dedicated tourism centre on Bells Line of Road.

Read the Hawkesbury City Council's Full document about the history of the NPWS World Heritage Visitor Centre project for Bilpin: 

 

Download the History of the concept and re-establishing the Proposal document prepared by Hawkesbury City Council >>

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World Heritage Area Visitor Centre

2004 Media Release

Winning design for Blue Mountains World Heritage Area 13th January 2004

 

A sustainable architectural design highlighting the unique features of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area has won the competition for the design of the $1.7 million visitor centre at Bilpin.

 

Jointly funded by the Federal and State Governments, the centre is expected to be completed by December 2004. Around $1 million has been provided through the Federal Government's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust, with the NSW Government providing additional funding and resources.

 

Announcing the winner today, the Federal Member for Macquarie, Kerry Bartlett, and NSW Environment Minister, Bob Debus, said the winning design team, architect Lindsay Johnston and landscape architect David Moir, had entered the most sensitive design utilising the local environment.

 

"The whole-of-site design takes advantage of a picturesque north-facing site, with long views to the Wollemi National Park and immediate views into the tree canopy over a sandstone escarpment," Mr Debus said.

 

"The pre-eminent feature of the design is the roof canopy. A floating sculpture inspired by the shape of eucalyptus leaves celebrates the World Heritage significance of the unique Blue Mountain eucalypt communities.

 

"This will be complemented by features of aboriginal culture, expressed through elements within the building details, and it is planned to integrate works by local indigenous artists.

 

"The building will be accessed by a pathway though native vegetation and the interior of the main building will have the capacity to open up to the outside. A small amphitheatre will provide an outdoor classroom."

 

Mr Bartlett said visitors to the Centre would find a range of interpretive displays on the 1.03 million hectares of Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and information on the 100 species of eucalypt which formed the basis for the listing of the area.

 

"The design will showcase this internationally recognised area to the public through education and interpretation," he said.

 

"The building itself would be environmentally sustainable – constructed from materials that have low impact on the environment. Environmental features will include solar heating from solar panels doubling as sun shading canopies, robust high thermal mass materials to moderate indoor temperatures and rainwater harvesting. Options for grey water recycling and on-site effluent treatment are also being investigated.

 

"It has been designed to resist the threat of bushfire by the use of non-combustible materials, sprinkler systems and fireproof window shutters.

"This project celebrates the natural beauty of the World Heritage Area and is sure to be of tremendous benefit to our local tourism industry.

  

"It will encourage visitors to maximise their World Heritage experience by using the Sydney-Richmond-Bilpin-Mt Victoria-Blackheath-Katoomba-Wentworth Falls-Glenbrook-Sydney route, rather than the traditional route up the Great Western Highway. This could also encourage more visitors to stay overnight rather than just come on a day trip."

 

Mr Debus said the Centre would be an invaluable addition to Western Sydney and Blue Mountains attractions and assist to promote local tourism operators and businesses.

 

"The Bilpin community has been extremely supportive of the project and I thank them for their involvement in the consultative phase of this project," he said.

 

"Similarly, Hawkesbury Council and Tourism Hawkesbury both have representatives on the Project Team and we'll all be working together to ensure the visitor centre and surrounds are of the highest quality and deliver a superior visitor experience."

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Site plan of the proposed NPWS Visitor Centre.

Project supported by Hawkesbury City Council in 2020

The proposal more recently been revisited by Hawkesbury City Council. In 2020 Hawkesbury City Council pass a resolution to support the project.

"This project should be rejuvenated again to encourage visitation to our beautiful region and capitalise on work already undertaken. All that is required is funding, land acquisition and reignition of community consultation. It would become a focal point of the region."

Read the Hawkesbury City Council's Full document: See the History of the concept and re-establishing the Proposal >>

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View from the proposed NPWS Visitor Centre site.

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Map showing location of the proposed NPWS Visitor Centre.

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