In 1999, Hastings Council commissioned the Heritage Design Services Section of the Department of Public Works and Services to prepare the Port Macquarie Archaeology Interpretation Masterplan.
The Masterplan, which was fully funded by the NSW Heritage Office and recognised by them as the first of its kind in the State, dealt specifically with Port Macquarie's convict period (1821 - 1847) and in part, sets out the:
- interpretive approach for the Port Macquarie CBD
- archaeological and historic sites/precincts identified for future interpretation
- individual interpretation plans for each identified site
The Masterplan identified 16 precincts and recommended that 13 of these precincts would benefit from interpretive signage. It also recommended that a brochure for a heritage walk covering the precincts be developed and that the brochure be supplemented by an audio walk - a recorded narrative reproduced on a hired CD player that would provide a personal element during a self guided tour.
The Masterplan was endorsed by Council on 10 January, 2000 and has received the following awards:
- WINNER: Energy Australia National Trust Award 2000 Category C1 Tourism (Corporate/Government)
- COMMENDATION: Royal Australian Planning Institute (NSW Division) Awards 2001, Plan Making and Strategies - Plan Making by Local Government
The 'Remembering Our Convict Heritage' Walk was officially opened by Murray Brown, Senior Heritage Officer Promotions, NSW Heritage Office on Tuesday 9 August 2005. The six kilometre walk incorporates the thirteen interpretive signs which provides an insight into life in Port Macquarie from 1821 - 1847.
This project is the first major initiative of its kind ever undertaken in the Hastings region. The walking trail commences at the northern end of Horton Street near the wharf and follows the foreshore past Oxley Beach, making its way back into town along Pacific Drive. The trail then goes out past Kooloonbung Creek to finish at the northern end of Short Street where convict huts once stood.
The signage panels include details of the precinct; identify archaeological sites; provide an interpretive synopsis and historical theme; include a map indicating the location of other precincts, whilst focusing on a real account or story about the site.
The balance of the funds was raised over a six-week period through the generosity of twelve sponsors whom I'd like to mention here today:- Australian Heritage Restorations; Bob Todd Motors; Donovan, Oates, Hannaford Lawyers; Focus; Hastings District Funeral & Cremation Service; HW Motel; National Parks & Wildlife Services; the Observatory; Rydges Hotel; Sundowner Breakwall Tourist Park; WaterWise and Don & Corale Oberin. I'd also like to mention Greater Port Macquarie Tourism who assisted in producing this brochure.