A treasured village, a sign of the times?

The recent refusal of an appeal to the Land and Environment court by a developer who wanted to build a block of brick flats on a corner, tree studded block in the quiet village of Tinonee, hopefully sets a new benchmark.

Commissioner Sarah Bish dismissed the appeal as she found that the “proposed development was not in the public interest because it was not consistent with the streetscape character and could potentially result in unacceptable environmental impact due to the removal of native trees.”

As locals know, Tinonee is a koala haven, and they pride their picturesque historic village on the river between Taree and Wingham as a simple, peaceful, single dwelling village with gardens and landscaping as well as native trees. 

Unfortunately an unimaginative cheek by jowl housing estate at the edge of the village and a smaller block of flats were approved in previous years. Locals do not want any more such as these.  

Single dwellings, pretty gardens, tree lined streets and a sense of neighbourliness make Tinonee a desirable place to live.

Lost Tourism

Sadly the historic Memories Café has been revamped to a private home and the wonderful Terrace Cinema was forced to close due to complaints from a neighbour who objected to cars parked along the little side lane every few weeks when someone booked a screening (capacity 22 people) and also insisted a gravel car park should be made. She opposed the cinema guests sitting under the trees sipping drinks in the garden of the heritage cottage which housed the classic little cinema filled with movie memorabilia. The neighbour was too difficult for too long, so the owners closed the cinema which was a huge tourist attraction for visitors. (The neighbour has since passed away.)  Fortunately the quaint antique clock repair shop remains at the location.

Russell Saunders’ Shark Art Gallery in Pevrill Street closed when he moved into bigger premises in Taree. 

But with some imagination and council support, Tinonee could become a modest little tourist attraction utilising the river where the punt used to cross to join the Pacific Highway.  Wouldn’t leisurely cruising along the Manning River from Tinonee (or from further) to Wingham Riverside Park, be a lovely trip? There is already a tourist boat that cruises the river, but a local quaint one would also be good. (No power boats or jet skis thanks.)

A tea room or trendy café is desperately needed in Tinonee. Thankfully the Old Court House, complete with small jail and judge’s bench is being renovated, which may be a café or unique guest house along with the several other rental cottages popular with visitors. And right opposite the courthouse is the charming and interesting Tinonee Museum. 

Scenic Drive

Just out of the village past the Tinonee Orchid Farm heading towards Mondrook, is Artisans gallery and B&B. Opposite is the Mondrook Cafe which is for sale as a home and business.

Once, a drive through Tinonee to Wingham with places to stop was very popular.

The park opposite Tinonee Public school is home to koalas, and residents are very protective of their colony. Dogs must be kept locked up at night. 

It is places like Tinonee and other areas in our electorate where attention is given to the rural setting; the peacefulness of being surrounded by trees and river views, a place to grow veggies or to landscape, with no traffic and noise, that is the goldmine appeal to families and couples who want to leave the chaos of our cities. 

Suburban housing estates and manufactured homes are an anathma to our regional setting.  Developers with their eye on the dollars, clear fell an area and jam in as many homes as possible with scarcely a back yard let alone an acre or two of land. Such developments mean  neighbours eaves nearly touch, a fence separates neighbours by mere feet, their lives entwined by proximity and lack of privacy.  

Yes, there’s a big demand for affordable housing.  But that doesn’t mean cheap, nasty and unimaginative dwellings predicted to be slums of the future no matter who lives there.  

There are some innovative “green” buildings and modest cluster homes in a greenspace that can be fit for purpose and also attractive, as an alternative.

A forward thinking, enlightened council would consider doing away with the 100 acre rural blocks rule (RU2 legislation) and allow subdividing sections into five acre blocks which can not be downsized.  Such sites would attract people with a higher income who will spend money locally; on tractors, mowers, fences, animals, feed, employees, plantings etc. 

A clever council might analyse the difference between the considerable money they earn from the unused land and that of an attractive, desirable planned setting that protects people, environment and creatures.  

Covid19 has persuaded many city people that they need to, and can, change their lifestyle and get out of the cement charmlessness of a city and breathe fresh air as they work from home, and discover how good life can be in places like Tinonee.

It’s a place worth fighting for and protecting. 

And setting an example of a new way of living . . . a bit like the good old days. 



  • Don’t be silly. A beautiful and attractive tourist run from Tinonee to Wingham does not line the pockets of councilors, or their mates, as a block of flats does. Let’s face it, politics these days is all about feathering your own nest. A government elected by the people, for the people, is just a fantasy.

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