For 56 years Wirrimbirra Sanctuary and the Stead Foundation have been inextricably linked. The foundation has not only been running the wildlife sanctuary near Bargo but also owns the rights to the trading name of Wirrimbirra Sanctuary.
But it could all end this Friday, October 11, when an eviction notice from the National Trust to the David G. Stead Memorial Wild Life Research Foundation of Australia is set to take effect.
Nobody yet knows who will take over the running of the property located on 3105 Remembrance Drive, Bargo because the National trust has not revealed whose Expression of Interest for a long term lease it has selected to replace the Stead Foundation.
But the foundation is not taking its eviction notice lying down, with prominent members Margaret Kitson and her daughter, Janine Kitson, calling on government authorities to urgently intervene to stop the eviction from taking place.
“This eviction threatens both the existence of the Stead Foundation and Wirrimbirra itself,” says Margaret Kitson, a Stead Foundation member and former president, pictured [below] earlier this year at a Picton Rotary meeting where she was the guest speaker.
“Without the Stead Foundation, Wirrimbirra Sanctuary ceases to exist, as the foundation owns the trading name Wirrimbirra Sanctuary,’’ Ms Kitson said.
The eviction may even destroy Wirrimbirra Sanctuary’s state heritage statement of significance for its role in the development of the conservation movement in NSW and its association with key persons who pioneered the conservation debate.
The Stead Foundation and Wirrimbirra are intertwined memorials to two of Australia’s greatest environmental pioneers David G. Stead and his wife, Thistle Y. Harris Stead. It was Thistle who established Wirrimbirra in 1963.
Janine Kitson, a former National Trust director, says the Stead Foundation is one of the Trust’s most significant donors.
“It was the Stead Foundation who gifted the land at Wirrimbirra Sanctuary to the National Trust in 1965,’’ Janine Kitson said.
“They did so in an act of trust, believing that the National Trust would protect Wirrimbirra Sanctuary for perpetuity.
“They did this on the understanding that the Stead Foundation would manage, finance and build Wirrimbirra Sanctuary.
“And indeed since 1965 the Stead Foundation have managed, fundraised for Wirrimbirra buildings, accommodation huts, visitors centre, native nursery, library as well as dams, gardens and memorials.
“By failing to co-operate with the Stead Foundation, for over a decade, the National Trust has undermined the Stead Foundation in fulfilling its conservation and education goals.’’
The South West Voice in Macarthur has asked Ms Debbie Mills, CEO of the National Trust, for comment, including who was behind the successful Expression of Interest.
- July 2018: David Stead, Stead Foundation president and Margaret Kitson meet with the National Trust hoping to negotiate a new lease that provides security for the Stead Foundation.
- National Trust announce Expression of Interest (EOI) for a long term lease for the management of 3105 Remembrance Drive, Bargo [They could not advertise the name Wirrimbirra Sanctuary because it is the trading name owned by the Stead Foundation.
- The National Trust invites the Stead Foundation, the original benefactors, to put in a submission.
- The Stead Foundation puts in an EOI in good faith outlining how they had successfully managed and financed the property for over 50 years.
- National Trust (NSW) informs the Stead Foundation that their submission has been unsuccessful and issues a Notice of Termination for the lease that expired in 2014, with 3 months’ notice to vacate the premises “and deliver to the Landlord the keys and security devices to the Premises”.