Guide for Lee Point Golf Course Submission

Submissions close 27 Oct 2023 – send to:

This submission guide is based on limited comments from people that are familiar with Lee Point and SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Links to Friends of Lee Point documents and references are given for background and ideas.

See Section 5.0  for a link to the documents and tips for a short submission.

1.0 Introduction

The area being proposed for the 18-hole golf course is part of Darwin’s Wildlife Corridor and adjacent to the Lee Point Biodiversity Corridor, refer to maps at Save Lee Point.

The proposal by Morandini Investments Pty Ltd (MI) involves plans (in stages) to build an 18-hole golf course on land adjacent to the Lee Point Resort/Caravan Park at Lee Point, refer to PA 2023/0340 documents (over 400 pages) at Planning Notices .

MI had discussions with Friends of Lee Point (FLP) and other groups in the development of their Golf Course Plan prior to this development application. They have also been assisting FLP with the promotion of birdwatching activities in the vicinity of Lee Point Dam.

FLP believe that no significant development should take place at Lee Point until the NT Planning Commission has completed a comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point – refer Planning for Lee Point. They regard a 9-hole or 18-hole golf course development as a significant development for Lee Point.

FLP view is that subject to a planning study; the Disused Golf Course land (or majority of it) should be included in a Reserve, refer: Lee Point Area Map.

The above plan is from the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) Section 1.3 with storage volumes added in from other EMP information.

Current and future dam set up – existing Dams 1 and 2 are used to irrigate the caravan park and resort. The other (9) small dams are used by wildlife. At the end of the dry; Dams 1 and 2 are mostly empty, approx half of the small dams are near empty and the rest empty. 

New drainage channels (in blue) plus a future Dam 3 are being proposed to harvest more water.


2.0 History

Lee Point (Binybara) peninsula is an irreplaceable asset and contains over half of Casuarina Coastal Reserve (CCR). CCR attracted over 1.4M visits in 2022. It is one of Darwin’s most important natural assets – refer Lee Point; a special part of Darwin.

Ownership details from PA 2023/0340 of the disused golf course land (Lot 9461) also referred hereafter as the Site are:

PA 2023/0340 – Development App Ref 1.0 exec summary – It is noted that Lot 9461 is currently held under a Crown Lease with freeholding subject to the following:

a) The completion of golfing facilities on Lot 9461.

b) The subdivision of Lots 9289 and 9461 into a single Lot.

Development App Ref 4.3 – Morandini Investments Pty Ltd is the landowner (of Lot 9289) and the lessee (of Lot 9461) for which the application is made on behalf of.

Work on the Site (lot 9461) – Lee Point Dam (Dam 1) was constructed about 30 years ago as part of the Caravan Park/Report development. Clearing for an 18-hole Golf course occurred in 2008 (15 years ago) and included the construction of a series of drainage channels to (10) dams. Little work has been done on the golf course since then. Gamba Grass has invaded parts of the Lee Point peninsula and MI have recently been working on getting rid of this from the Site.

Land Use Planning for Lee Point – Up to 90% of Lee Point is owned by the taxpayer including the DHA land (~110ha) and the Site (~86ha of Crown land). No Area Plan existed for Lee Point until 2015. The 2015 Lee Point Area Plan is best described as the DHA Area Plan for Lee Point given it focuses on the DHA land (DHA prepared the plan) and doesn’t show other parts of Lee Point.  This means that close to 40% of Lee Point (~500ha) is now being planned for development without a comprehensive Area Plan for Lee Point.

The lack of a comprehensive Area Plan at Lee Point has led to the disorderly development of Lee Point which is at odds with the intention of the NT Planning Act. This matter needs to be addressed as a matter of priority before any significant development at Lee Point should be allowed.


3.0 Comments on the Lee Point Golf Course proposal

These comments relate to the development application PA 2023/0340.

Environmental Aspects

Native habitat – needs to be retained and enhanced wherever possible in Darwin’s Wildlife Corridor if Darwin is to maintain its biodiversity. The absence of an environmental plan for Lee Point makes this application incomplete. Lee Point is an area of high biodiversity and needs to be protected.

Dam water supply – A critical time for birdlife/wildlife would be in the period October – November when the dam levels are at their lowest. The majority of dam water would be used (if the golf course proceeds) on the second 9-holes. The first 9-holes is 2.2km long and the second 9-holes 3.2km long – refer to Environmental Management Plan (EMP).

PA 2023/0340 – EMP page 8 – Consumption of Water Resources Golf courses typically require large quantities of fresh water to maintain fairways and greens to a high standard. This has the potential to divert scarce water resources for drinking, agriculture and environmental requirements. While the Darwin region has a relatively high annual rainfall, the vast majority falls in the monsoonal wet season. Water for irrigation will be sourced entirely from recycled water and runoff collected in storage dams across the site. No mains or groundwater will be used for irrigation. Several dams already occur on-site and an additional dam will be constructed to supplement the existing supplies. Water availability will be a key factor in the future decision to expand the initial nine-hole course.

Biting insects – the risk of biting insects during construction works is identified in the EMP section 2.7 but is not identified as a risk to golfers.

Landscaping – Darwin’s and the Top End’s unique flora and fauna should be maintained wherever possible. These references should be considered: Guidelines from City of Darwin – Habitat booklet and Top End Native Plants by John Brock.

Birdwatching – having more small dams than a few large dams is better for birdlife in that it provides more watering points and better protection from predators.

Invasive species – should be eradicated (or managed) for the whole of the Lee Point peninsula and as such it needs a whole of peninsula plan to be effective.

Social Aspects

Lee Point Area Plan – the community needs to have a say in the future of Lee Point given that most of the land (includes the DHA and golf course land) belongs to the community. A comprehensive Area Plan should be completed for the whole of Lee Point prior to any significant development happening at Lee Point.

Attracting visitors – people aren’t going to come to Darwin if it is like everywhere else but hotter – there are lots of golf courses in other places.

Birdwatching attraction – the number of people going birdwatching has grown considerably over the past few years, particularly at Lee Point.

Public Access – at present ~50% of Lee Point can be accessed by the public and this could be increased to up to ~90%. A golf course provides access to mainly golfers.

First Nations consultation – Consultation with First Nations people on the restoration of the land should happen a lot earlier. Larrakia are only being involved at the construction stage – Ref EMP Section 2.10, table 11.

Economic Aspects

Financial risk – MI take the financial risk with the development. However, a failed venture can provide disruption to other businesses and lost opportunities for the community.

Need for golf course – the City of Darwin area (pop 84,000) has three golf courses (one 18-hole, two 9-hole) plus a driving range, and Palmerston (pop 40,000) one 18-hole golf course. Population growth and demand for golf services is likely to come from outside of City of Darwin (not near Lee Point) ie. Berrimah, Palmerston – Holtze area. The need for a golf course at Lee Point was not demonstrated in the application but should have been.

Land use – Its not clear what happens to the rest of the land if only part of the Site is used for a golf course or the golf course project fails.

Dry season usage – The golf course would be mostly used in the dry season May to October (5 months) when the tourist season happens.

4.0 Recommendations

Based on limited time and comments there were a variety of recommendations and reasons given:

1.0 No golf course development on Site

Reasons – Maximise the use of the Site for nature-based activities. A mini golf facility could still be incorporated into the Resort/Caravan Park (Lot 9289 ) if required. Facilities such as sewage treatment ponds and dams (needed for irrigation) could still be leased to MI. Allows time to complete a comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point.

2. Small golf development on Site e.g. mini golf facility

Reasons – Provides a recreation activity for families with minimal impact on the Site or existing dam water sources plus allows for some expansion of the Resort/Caravan Park. Avoids effluent reuse and associated risks. Allows time to complete a comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point.

3.0 9-hole course development on Site

Reasons – provides another golf course for Darwin and a larger portion of the Site would be actively restored and maintained.

The full 18-hole course on the Site was not supported. Reasons given: likely failure of dam water supply (not enough water). It would be largely incompatible with other nature-based activities ie. nature walks, bike trails, birdwatching and hence only cater for one type of recreational activity. This would limit public access and overall public benefit.


Note: FLP has always maintained that:

No significant developments should proceed at Lee Point until the NT Planning Commission completes a comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point.


5.0 Ready to make a submission?

Here’s a few tips for a short submission. Make your submission personal. You can follow this structure if it helps:

Introduce yourself: who you are, where you live, and why you support or oppose the proposed 18-hole golf course at Lee Point.

If you oppose the Lee Point Golf Course project. You could include any of the following points (or ones above) that resonate with you:

  • No significant developments should proceed at Lee Point until the NT Planning Commission completes a comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point.
  • An 18-hole golf course at Lee Point would be largely incompatible with other nature-based activities, caters for one type of recreational activity, and diverts water away from environmental requirements.
  • The need for another golf course in Darwin needs to be demonstrated.

Submissions close midnight Friday 27 October.

Link to documents (under Planning Notices):

Your submission needs to contain your full name and contact details, add PA 2023/0340 in the title. Your name may be given to the Applicant. To make a submission, click the “make submission” button or email