Friends of Lee Point are a Darwin based community group that work to protect the natural beauty and biodiversity of Lee Point (Binybara). Further information is available on the Save Lee Point website.
1. No significant developments should proceed at Lee Point (Binybara) until the NT Planning Commission completes a comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point.
2. As part of the comprehensive Area Plan (see above) the disused Lee Point Golf Course land (or majority of it) should be included in a Conservation Reserve to improve public access to land at Lee Point (Binybara).
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 (Fig 2 and 3).
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.
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. Furthermore, the disused Golf Course land (or majority of it) should be included in a Reserve, refer: Lee Point Area Map.
Lee Point (Binybara) peninsula is an irreplaceable asset and contains over half of Casuarina Coastal Reserve, which 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.
Land 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.
In essence the disused golf course land (lot 9461) is public land.
Work on the Site (lot 9461) – Lee Point Dam (Dam 1) was constructed about 30 years ago as part of the Caravan Park/Resort 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 (refer Fig 2). 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 – no Area Plan for Lee Point existed prior to 2015. The 2015 Lee Point Area Plan would be 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. The DHA land (~110ha) and the Site (~86ha of Crown land) are both owned by the Australian taxpayer. 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 and is at odds with the purpose of the NT Planning Act which is to establish a system to facilitate planning for the orderly use and development of land. This matter needs to be addressed as a matter of priority before any significant development at Lee Point should be allowed.
3.0 Site layout and water supply
Existing Dams 1 and 2 are currently being 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, approximately 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 as part of the Golf Course proposal to harvest more water. The proposed 18-hole golf course has been incorporated into the existing disused 18-hole golf course (see Fig 2) to retain native habitat and a conservation area set up in the south east.
Fig 1. The above plan is from the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) Section 1.3 with storage volumes added in from other EMP information.
4.0 Comments on Lee Point Golf Course Proposal
The comments made below would be best considered as part of a future comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point.
Native habitat – should to be retained and enhanced wherever possible in Darwin’s Wildlife Corridor (also refer to Fig 3) if Darwin is to maintain its biodiversity. Lee Point is part of this corridor.
Fig 2. Map showing Stage 1 cleared, with Stage 2 next and future proposed clearing with a red border plus disused 18-hole golf course.
Environmental plan for Lee Point – the Golf Course environmental plan should fit into a Lee Point environmental plan which at this stage does not exist.
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.
Water availability – Over 70% of the water is expected to come from the dam supply (stormwater runoff) for the golf course but there is little information on the dam supply or how the main existing dams, Dams 1 and 2, are performing now. The dam supply needs to be better understood.
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 – Top End’s unique flora and fauna should be maintained wherever possible in Darwin’s Wildlife Corridor which Lee Point is part of. A list of plants can be found in “Top End Native Plants by John Brock” and wildlife in “A guide to Wildlife and protected areas of the Top End by Lindley McKay”.
Birdwatching – having more small dams than a few large dams is better for birdlife/wildlife 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. For an management plan to be effective it needs to cover the whole of the peninsula.
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.
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. Restoring native habitat (with wildlife) should help create this point of difference.
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 freely accessed by the public for recreation and this could be increased to up to ~90% if the DHA land and disused golf course land was made freely available to the public.
Recreational value to community – more people participate in recreation through walking or cycling than playing golf. A golf course provides access to mainly golfers.
First Nations consultation – 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.
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 as the land is still publicly owned.
Golf courses in Darwin – 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 (refer Fig 3). Locating another 18-hole golf course in Darwin (at Lee Point) needs to be better justified.
Fig 3. Map showing Darwin Wildlife Corridor and potential housing land.
Land use – It’s 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 (cooler months) May to October (5 months) when the tourist season happens.
It is recommended 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.
These additional comments would be best considered as part of the recommended work for the NT Planning Commission work, see above.
- As part of the comprehensive Area Plan (see above) the disused Lee Point Golf Course land (or majority of it) should be included in a Conservation Reserve to improve public access to Lee Point.
- The full 18-hole course on the Site (Lot 9461) is not supported. Reasons are; likely failure of dam water supply (not enough water) which would divert water away from environmental requirements. It would be largely incompatible with other nature-based activities ie. nature walks, bike trails, birdwatching and only cater for one type of recreational activity. This would limit public access and overall public benefit.
- The need for another golf course in Darwin should be demonstrated as the expected population growth would be in the vicinity of Palmerston. There is room to accommodate a mini golf facility into the Resort/Caravan Park Lot (9289) if need be.
Please call if you have any queries and let us know when and where the DCA hearing will be held.