With more than 4 million visitors a year to the NSW Royal National Park, the Aboriginal engravings at Jibbon Headland, have been a popular location for the public to appreciate the cultural heritage of the Dharawal people.

Identified by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as an important landmark on the Royal Coast Track, the area was in urgent need of protection whilst maintaining adequate public access to this unique site.

The popularity of the site had contributed to its deterioration, with erosion and abrasion caused by visitors walking directly onto the engravings putting their preservation at risk.

Landscape Architects and Architects Phillips Marler were commissioned by NPWS to design and document for construction the 60 metre steel elevated viewing platform and walkway. The logistics of the delivery and installation to site determined the design process requiring solutions to a range of difficult logistical challenges including:

  • No fixed sub-soil construction was allowed
  • Vehicular access was difficult and limited due to the remote and sandy site
  • Protection of the surrounding bushland from any damage caused during installation was vital
  • The construction materials and paint finishes were specified to have longevity and be able to withstand fire as well as corrosion in the salty coastal environment

For the solution to these challenges we looked skyward. A helicopter would be needed to transport and place materials to avoid any damage to this sensitive and remote site. This drove the design and construction methodology.

Based on our proven expertise working within sensitive environments, Fleetwood was selected to deliver this iconic structure. Flying in pre-mixed sand and cement for the above ground footings to the site by helicopter in bulka bags avoided any site contamination and sped up the construction process.

Materials and tools were then manually carried into the area by foot along a 300 metre trail. The galvanised and painted steel work components for the walkway and the viewing platform were assembled offsite in small sections and then individually helicoptered into position with great care. At the official opening of the new viewing platform and walkway in December 2014, Heathcote MP Lee Evans acknowledged the extensive consultation with the local Aboriginal community on the project and its
enduring value.

“The works will not only protect the Dharawal Aboriginal cultural heritage of the area but will also benefit the Bundeena community through increased visitation.”

The new walking track is part of an early stage of a project that will see the creation of a series of Great Walks in NSW that will stand alongside Tasmania’s Overland Track and Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk.