The National Trust says calling for tenders for the management and lease of the land at Wirrimbirra Sanctuary will secure its long term future.
And while the two current occupants, David G Stead Memorial Wild Life Research Foundation of Australia and the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society were invited to be part of the Expression of Interest process, one of them is concerned they won’t get past first base.
The expression of interest process has now closed for the iconic wildlife reserve and environmental education centre near the Wollondilly village of Bargo, and Mr David Stead, the president of David G Stead Memorial Wild Life Research Foundation of Australia, is concerned the tender process could “bring to an end our association with the land, the heritage and the community, that we have created over the past 55 years’’.
He said the Stead Foundation has made a submission to Stage 1 of the two staged process.
“Only invitations to Stage 2 would be notified and the expected date for this was December 12, 2018.
“Although we had asked for clarification if this would still be the date, we have received no response form the National Trust,’’ Mr Stead said.
“We hope this is not the case and urge the National Trust to consider their responsibility to heritage,’’ Mr Stead said.
In response, Debbie Mills, the chief executive officer at the National Trust of Australia (NSW) said: “The process we have followed for the stage 1 submissions, is that applicants have been notified as to whether they are being invited to participate in stage 2, or if additional information was required for the stage 1 part of the assessment process.
“The National Trust has communicated with Mr Stead on a number of occasions in relation to the David G Stead Memorial Wild Life Research Foundation of Australia’s stage 1 application.
“Accordingly, I do not agree with the statement that Mr Stead has received no response.’’
Ms Mills told the South West Voice in Macarthur “ the aim that we have specified in commencing this process is to ensure the best possible long term outcome for this special place’’.
“The National Trust is very concerned with ensuring the long term sustainability of 3105 Remembrance Driveway, Bargo (Wirrimbirra Sanctuary),’’ Ms Mills said.
Earlier this year, in announcing the launch of the tender process, Ms Mills said: “The National Trust of Australia (NSW) is commencing an open Expression of Interest process for the future management and occupancy of the above property commonly known as the Wirrimbirra Sanctuary.
“The property has operated as a sanctuary since 1963, and was gifted to the National Trust of Australia (NSW) in 1965 by the David G Stead Memorial Wild Life Research Foundation of Australia (Stead Research Foundation) and over the years has flourished as a field studies centre for school children and tertiary students.
“The National Trust of Australia has been considering the future management of this property for many years to ensure the long term sustainability and effective management for this site of great significance to the local community,” Ms Mills said.
“We recognise the great environmental and cultural significance of the property and that a sense of connection to this place is a very emotional matter for the local community,” Debbie Mills said.
“Our aim in commencing this process is to ensure the best possible long term outcome for this special place in the spirit of the vision of its initiator Dr Thistle Stead (nee Harris) and the intent of the gift of the property to the National Trust.’’
The published tender in August said:
Expressions of Interest (EOI) are being called for, by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) (National Trust) for the long term leasing, management and operation of the property at 3105 Remembrance Drive, Bargo, NSW, being the property where the “Wirrimbirra Sanctuary” is currently located.
The National Trust acknowledges that the name ‘Wirrimbirra Sanctuary’ is a registered business name held by the David G. Stead Memorial Wild Life Research Foundation of Australia and will not be included with any leasehold interest granted in respect of the property. The use of the name ‘Wirrimbirra Sanctuary’ in the documents, is solely as a commonly recognised place name, and is not a reference to the business that is operated under that name.
The Expression of Interest is for the land held as freehold by the National Trust. The National Trust is committed to ensuring a sustainable future for the property that respects its natural significance and history and provides a place that fosters conservation, research and education about flora and fauna. Secure tenure of the property is obviously a key aspect in how an applicant might operate, plan and develop the property. An applicant’s understanding of the place, clear vision and plan for its future, along with an ability to implement the same to bring about a sustainable outcome for the property, are paramount to the National Trust.
Wirrimbirra Sanctuary, a wildlife reserve and leading environmental education centre in the 1960s-1980s, was created by the David G Stead Memorial Wild Life Research Foundation of Australia (Stead Foundation).
The Stead Foundation (a benefactor to the Trust) purchased the land, acquired the Freehold Land and associated Crown Land and transferred the land to the National Trust, as part of a long term contract.
Mr Stead says The Stead Foundation exists to support conservation and education of Australia’s native plants and animals, “either through our own efforts or in combination with other organisations’’.
“At Wirrimbirra we created the State Heritage listed property, conserved 90 hectares of native Bargo Brush, maintained endangered ecology and plants, and operated one of the longest continuously operating businesses in the Wollondilly Shire (native plant nursery),’’ he says.
“We also built the model field studies centre for environmental education (second in the NSW), educated countless thousands of children and teachers on environmental interests, created a significant heritage and visitor site with international interest and visitation, built associations with educators and service organisations in the community, inside Wollondilly and beyond.
“The Stead Foundation also exists to remember those who contributed to the foundation’s interests, including David G. Stead and our founder Thistle Stead.
“I can’t speak for the National Trust and they have not been clear on their intentions.
“The expectation will be that they’ll assess the responses and then determine what they want to do,’’ Mr Stead said.