- Written by Murray Byfield
- Category: Forgotten History
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The city that was not meant to be...
A little unknown fact that North Arm Cove on the North Shore of Port Stephens in New South Wales was seriously considered to become the nations capital and was to be named "Port Stephens City".
The area was subdivided in 1918 in accordance with Walter Burley Griffins plan (who designed the layout for Canberra) for a major capital city. The plan included jetties and wharves, civil, administration and service buildings and two railway stations linked to the main northern line.
Lookout designed and erected by Henry F Halloran.
However Burley Griffins company went into liquidation and ownership of the subdivision passed to Henry F Halloran who advertised lots for sale some time after. Again the project got off to another false start and the plan was again abandoned.
Port Stephens City indicated on lookout at Tanilba House NSW
Halloran an early Australian land developer eventually purchased Tanilba House and estate on the southern side of Port Stephens in 1931. The subdivision plan of Tanilba bay is very similar to the original design of Port Stephens City.
Many of the original dirt roads from the original 1918 subdivision for Port Stephens City are still in existence some still even have the street name signs in place yet no significant buildings were ever constructed.
The original subdivision can still by seen clearly from the sky.
Copyright: Google Earth
A lookout at Tanilba House on the southern side of Port Stephen has an arrow pointing to the location of where"Port Stephens City" would have been if the development went ahead.
Today lots of land are still for sale at North Arm Cove at a very reasonable prices however no permanent structures can be built on the blocks. You cannot even pitch a tent there for more than a few days without the threat of being fined by the local council.
Many people buy the blocks in the hope that zoning will change in the future and the and the land will eventually be able to be developed. Landowners become quickly disillusioned with this promise and resell their land to the next unsuspecting buyer.
There are various theories as to why Port Stephens City never eventuated to become the metropolis as was intended.
* Port Stephens was too shallow for ships of any significant berth to navigate in.
* Politicians could be easily abducted at times of war due to the city being very close to the coastline?
* Political bias in favour of Newcastle Port of Newcastle.
* Government funding became unavailable due to the Great Depression.
Whatever the case the great Port Stephens City never eventuated. Some would say that it was a blessing in disguise as the area today still maintains a very serene and natural atmosphere unspoiled by major modern development.