Critically Endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub under threat on Jennifer Street


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UPDATE  November2019




(Justice Tim Moore, Land and Environment Court Hearing 4th November 2019) and map of final layout.


Final Hearing Day 6th November, 2019, notes: It was a full day in court with the 2 ecologists (Dr David Robertson, proponent, and Andrew McGahey, Council, questioned, mainly by Justice Moore. The main issue all along has been the ESBS (rather than impacts on neighbours, including St Michaels) and on the last day it came down to how much would be destroyed and what could be considered ESBS. Because Andrew  (witness for Council) had ‘successfully’ translocated patches from remnant sites (with NPWS supporting EPBC referral) at Prince Henry it was difficult for him to argue that it couldn’t be moved. Andrew kept referring to the Scientific Committee’s definition of ESBS which strictly applies to remnants in situ undisturbed. But Justice Moore eventually satisfied himself that while there would be a loss in the short-term that within 10 years the site would be ‘better’ than it is today and that it would be functionally ESBS. Unfortunately, as this site has not been managed according to the 2004 Recovery Plan, and as translocation had been approved before, this made the argument easier. As he states in the determination, the regulator wouldn’t recognise the translocated ESBS but he and Andrew would. There was agreement to reduce the Asset Protection Zone to minimise loss and Justice Moore also mandated a full protection regime which included ecological burns. What concerns me is this: “I am satisfied, as Mr McGahey indicated, it will be entirely indistinguishable from and entirely botanically and biologically consistent with such community” . …….I think they needed an expert from the Scientific Committee to judge whether it would be ‘biologically consistent”. Does it come down to an interpretation of ‘consistent’. I don’t know but I think there could be implications for other threatened plant communities so it will be interesting to read expert commentary. There needed to be pressure on Council to resolve the zoning when the community was declared in 1997 and then under the EPBC in 1999 and certainly under the most recent LEP when in draft in 2011. To retain medium density residential zoning was absurd particularly given recommendations of the experts in the OEH. The money applied to fund legal challenges might have been used (along with a State grant) to purchase the site. There is no evidence that this was explored. It is this failing that has made it so difficult for the Land and Environment Court.  Link to Land and Environment Court Decision.

The battle on Jennifer Street to protect Critically Endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS) and provide habitat corridors between the National Park and Prince Henry continues. Over 1000 people have already signed a petition to protect these parcels of land.  Jennifer Street ESBS was subject to an earlier battle in the 1980s which resulted in a portion of the land being incorporated into the National Park and a parcel handed to the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.  The NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC) provided protection for ESBS (scheduled in 1997) and further protection was afforded Federally with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC).  A recovery plan was subsequently published in 2004 with landholders required to produce Plans of Management to protect sites under their protection. In December 2017, ESBS was rescheduled as Critically Endangered under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 which replaced the TSC. Despite the significance of the plant community and the native fauna it supports there have been plans for medium density residential development proposed since 1999 (see SMH 2004 report “The bay of plenty that ended up returning so little“) The problem all along has been the land zoning failing to align with environmental protection legislation and poor management of the site.

Randwick Council in the discussion paper for its Draft LEP 2011 proposed that the inappropriate zoning be addressed: “The Jennifer Street holdings, with an area of about 11,400 m2, are currently zoned 2B (Residential B). This unoccupied land contains a significant amount of ESBS and the ESBS buffer zone, as identified by the Office of Environment and Heritage (requiring more detailed investigation and confirmation). The consideration of suitable zone/s should protect the valuable natural vegetation on the site.” In the report discussed at Council 6/12/2011, pp.176-7: The OEH “Recommend an Environmental Conservation zoning be applied over the ESBS remnants in several sites (ie Jennifer St LALC holdings, St Michaels Driving Range, and the Telstra land at the end of Jennifer. St) particularly as these are contiguous and geographically linked with larger ESBS patches in the adjacent Botany Bay National Park and Prince Henry site.” Council response: ” Zoning and other planning provisions for all LALC holdings will be resolved as part of the future planning study. Action 9.2.7 of the ESBS Recovery Plan states that DEC will continue to liaise with the La Perouse and MALC regarding the management of land that contains ESBS. · The St Michaels Driving Range, as consulted and agreed with Crown Lands Division and DoPI, is proposed to be zoned Public Recreation (RE1), consistent with the lease extension for golf purposes. The ESBS on this land will be mapped and the land will be subject to the new Biodiversity clause in the draft LEP whenever a development application is considered.”

Regardless, LALC holdings remained zoned as residential medium density.  Because of this failure to address the problem for the 2012 LEP, Council sent a message that it still considered the land suitable for housing rather than requiring environmental protection.  After the new LEP confirmed residential zoning, Lot 11 was sold in 2012 and Lot 27 – the 4798 sqm strip adjacent St Michael’s Golf Course – was sold  in December 2013 for $1.1million.

There have been previous development applications submitted in 2013 eg. Jennifer-St-Multi-Storey Development and 2016 for Lot 11, as well as expensive Land and Environment Court hearings. The most recent DA was submitted in January 2018. In September residents attended a hearing for No.11 and then earlier this month for No.27.

Last month an amendment to the No. 11 – Ref Number: DA/101/2018 was submitted.  Background details are available on Council’s website. Anyone who opposes the development will need to make a submission. (plan for 40 dwellings as per Council webpage – on page 11 of SEE states 45 dwellings)

SUBMISSIONS TO COUNCIL CLOSE 5th April:  Email (Att. Frank Ko) All the papers are on Council’s Planning Page(this link). Previous submissions will NOT be held over as Council is looking at this afresh.  Note:  The Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE)(this link) is important to read.  This is where the consultants for the proponent attempt to address the ‘problem’ of ESBS protection. The Consultant is Paul Grech (B.Town Planning (Hons) UNSW) of GLN Planning 

The consultant responsible for the Species Impact Statement(SIS) is Cumberland Ecology.  They have already received criticism for their SIS for the  Cooks Cove Development as well as other developments.

The Species Impact Statement was provided in August 2017 just before the status of ESBS was changed from Endangered to Critically Endangered.  A referral to the Federal EPBC Act was made in March 2018. The Federal Department deemed it a controlled action in August 2018 and when further information is provided will assess it. The Species Impact Statement was peer reviewed by Total Earth Care who identified major shortcomings. Cumberland Ecology provided a response in January 2018. (Species list attached) The proposal includes the removal of 0.241 ha of ESBS.  The latest SEE seeks to diminish the importance of ESBS, but fails to report that the landholders have been negligent in in not protecting the ESBS as required under the  2004 Recovery Plan.  Had they, for instance, conducted an ecological burn and weed and rubbish removal it is highly likely there would be greater floristic diversity. See paper from volunteers of North Head Sanctuary Foundation on the importance of ecological burns and fencing and more on their website.  If this DA is approved it will reward poor environmental managers. Intensifying residential development adjacent the National Park is also likely to inhibit Parks in carrying out ecological burns of the neighbouring Jennifer Street ESBS.

On the 11th December 2002 NSW Cabinet endorsed the Southern Sydney Catchment Blueprint which on page 17 stated: “From 2003 no clearing of Endangered Ecological Communities”.  In 2003 James Woodford wrote about the removal of .15ha at Prince Henry. Also link to submission to the Review of the EPBC Act detailing issues with this clearing.

Submission for reference:

Lachlan Laurie Jennifer Street Submission 050419

Prince Henry Community Association OBJECTION to Amended DAs at 11 Jennifer Street, Little Bay – 20.3.19[29804] 

Lynda Newnam Submission 11 Jennifer Street 5th April 2019

On the 12th March 2019 the Land and Environment Court conducted a hearing for the 27 Jennifer Street Development on site.  There was no resolution and this will be dealt with in court at a later date.  This is another one to watch and question the appropriateness of the rezoning to residential.


Reece Discombe 100 years and 231 years of the Receveur Mass


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Sunday, 17th February 2019, marked 100 years since the birth of Reece Discombe, diver on the Laperouse Wrecks.  It was also the 231st anniversary of the death of Claude-Francois Joseph Louis Receveur.  There were two masses held for Receveur – the first at 8am and the second at 11am (details below)



Reece Discombe was born in Cambridge, New Zealand, on the 17th February 1919. The Cambridge Historical Society has provided more details in their February 2019 Newsletter. Russell Shelton, the author of “From Hudson Bay to Botany Bay” described Reece as the perfect man to be involved in diving the Laperouse Wrecks as he had “an affinity for salt water, his physical power and swimming ability, coupled with a natural mechanical aptitude with motors and metals …prepared him well for his involvement in the saga of Laperouse.  His interest in salvage diving led Reece to the New Hebrides in 1947.  The largest island “Espiritu Santo” had an enormous war surplus dump which he astutely realised could be used to supply the marketplace that had been starved for six years of newly manufactured machinery.  For fourteen years, he carried out salvage dives on wrecks around the New Hebrides.  He jokingly described himself “as having spent half of his life underwater”.  Reece had read much of the material available about Laperouse.  His curiosity resulted in the establishment of an expedition party in 1958.  The party left Vila for Vanikoro on the sixty foot launch, the “Don Quixote”.  From this trip, which was to be the first of many made between 1958 and 1964, Reece and his companions found many treasures including cast iron ballast blocks, lead ingots, brass wheels, cannons, iron rods, kegs of nails, buttons, hundreds of glass pieces, fragments of white porcelain and a number of anchors. He returned with teams of divers to the “Astrolabe” site many times. (Photos: top – Reece diving; above left: taken by Peter Stone, Oceans Enterprises; above right – Reece in Port Vila with map of Vanikoro, 2002)

In 1964, he discovered and explored the “Boussole”.  This resulted in the launch of three French sponsored expeditions to confirm the existence of the second wreck.  Reece’s perseverance in confirming the site of the “Astrolabe” and determining the location of the “Boussole” has contributed greatly to a fascinating part of maritime history. (Notes compiled by Reece Discombe and Diana New, 1993)

In addition to being a famous diver Reece was also New Zealand’s midget racing car champion of 1949. Pictured here in a Ford V860.

From the Waikato Independent 1963.

From Southern Courier 1999

Reece donated a number of items to the Laperouse Museum, including the Altar Stone(photo left), Mill Stone, Brass Pulley Wheel, Lead ingots, Roll of Brass Wire, Brass Trumpet, Fragment of Astrolabe, Brass Shackle, Anchor, Flanged Brass Pipes, Brass Stanchion, Cannon

Reece died 2nd June 2007.


It was perfect weather for celebrations with early morning cyclists around the loop and sailors in Frenchman’s Bay.

The Receveur Mass organised by Lee Leo of St Andrews, Malabar, was held at 11am with about 210 followers in attendance. Father David Blowey OFM CONV was the Principal Celebrant. Father Blowey is the Provincial Delegate Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Greyfriars Australia.  Co-celebrating were Fr Laurie Cauchi from St Andrews, Fr Willis Melderea, Chaplain to the Francophone Catholic Community, Father Martin Mai OFM Conv and Fr. Leonard Testa OFM Conv.  Special guests in attendance included Mr Nicolas Croizer, French Consul-General, Federal MP, Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite, and Councillors Danny Said, Carlos da Rocha and Noel Da Souza.  The Sydney Seaside Lions provided the sausage sizzle and Friends of the Laperouse Museum refreshments.


As advertised this continuous annual event occurred  on 17th February, the actual anniversary of the Conventual Franciscan friar’s death in 1788. Mass was celebrated AT 8AM in the ancient traditional Latin rite used by the two priests of the Laperouse Expedition at Botany Bay in early 1788.

Father Eric Ladner SSPX said the Mass on the verandah of the Laperouse Museum and preached the occasional sermon on the inception of the Mass in Australia by the priests of the Laperouse Expedition.. The Mass was followed by a procession of priest and congregation chanting the In Paradisum to the grave for final prayers for the dead and the chanting of the Salve Regina. The grave on which a wreath had been placed was aspersed with holy water by Father Ladner. The congregation of some 130 people included 6 Sisters of St. Pius X.



Receveur Mass 17 February 2019


This annually continuous event since its 1988 foundation will occur on the actual anniversary of this Conventual Franciscan friar’s death: 

Sunday, 17th February, 2019 at 8am. 

                                                                                                                                                                      VENUE: verandah of the Laperouse Museum      

Mass in the traditional Latin rite of the Catholic Church that was used at Botany by the two priests of the Laperouse Expedition at Botany in early 1788.

The only Mass rite known to St. Francis of Assisi  (ca.1181-1265) and to the two French priests of the Laperouse Expedition and to all the Catholic clergy of the Roman Rite in 1788. The first two Masses were celebrated either on the day of the expedition’s arrival, Saturday 26th January, 1788 ,the feast of St. Polycarp or  the next day which was Sexagesima. .Under the 1765 royal Ordonnance de la Marine,  which specified the duties of all types of French naval personnel,,chaplains in the royal navy were obliged to say Mass on Sundays and feast days without exception unless bad weather prevented it and on other days as often as possible. Here was the mandate for the introduction of the Mass to Australia in early 1788 which continued what had occurred throughout the Laperouse voyage aboard the two French frigates.

The two priests did not  concelebrate as concelebration of Mass by two or more priests did not exist in the 18th century on land or at sea.

The Mass was introduced to Australia by two French scientific savants,  a Conventual friar, whose death occasioned a Requiem Mass by his brother priest ,a canon of Ste. Genevieve in Paris and the Latin Office of the Dead which was mandatory at the funerals of naval personnel.



In the current issue of The Great Circle:Journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History (volume 41 no.1 2019) appears my article ‘The First Masses  in Australia at Botany Bay in early 1788’ (pp. 81-95). The article details and corrects egregious errors about the type and incidence of  Masses during the Botany Bay tenure of the Laperouse Expedition.

2018 Annual Pierre Roussel Lecture – Professor Robert Clancy


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The Contribution of Two Exceptional Frenchmen to the Success of Australian Rural Industry in the Nineteenth Century”

Professor Robert Clancy AM provided an authoritative and entertaining presentation on scientists Adrien Loir and Eugene Nicolle, situating their contributions within the  Enlightenment tradition and the innovation culture unique to a newly established and remote country.   Robert is a  life member and past president of the Friends of the Laperouse Museum.  He was the foundation Professor of Pathology at the University of Newcastle, developed the vaccine Broncostat there in 1985, has researched and lectured extensively in cartography and recently completed a thesis on the history of science in Australia. Link to recent ABC Interview.

photos clockwise: Pierre and Carole Roussel at the opening of the Laperouse Museum in 1988; Robert Clancy and Carole Roussel; Robert  presenting on Loir and Nicolle; Robert presenting an encore – an account of the Australian influence on engineers Wolseley and Austin


Lest we forget: 11th November 2018 La Perouse


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Today in La Perouse: Monument, Receveur Tomb & millstone from L’astrolabe.


Such was the camaraderie forged on the battlefields of the Western Front that on Bastille Day, 1917, the Hon. David Storey, M.L.A. (Randwick), a member of the Holman Government, announced that the New South Wales Government intended to dedicate a portion of land, approximately 1 acre, permanently to the French nation and the French people, so that it might be kept sacred to their memory for ever. At a separate public meeting on the same day, Mr J. Garland, M.L.C., Minister for Justice and Solicitor General, announced that the Government of New South Wales had decided to make a gift to the French people, in perpetuity, of the piece of land at Botany Bay, where Laperouse landed. [Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July, 1917].  (Pictured above: Australian Diggers at the unveiling of the
First Division Memorial at Pozières, July 1917)

Since the Laperouse Monument and Receveur Tombs were constructed in 1828 the headland has been a focus for commemoration of the relationship with France.

(Pictured: left –  French sailors pay their respects on Bastille Day 1944; below – presentation of French street signs for Soldiers Settlement Matraville at the 2008 commemoration.






(Left: Street sign in Villers-Bretonneux for Victoria School named for Victoria, Australia).