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Administrator’s message – 2023 End of Year Wrap-up

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As the year draws to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to look back on the last 12 months and celebrate some of this year’s significant milestones. 

It’s been an incredibly busy year here at Council, and staff have worked very hard to deliver an enormous amount of work for the betterment of the Central Coast community. 

Here are just some of the highlights from 2023.  

Delivery of infrastructure: 

  • This year, Council reopened the stunning Mangrove Creek Visitor Information Centre. 
  • Opened the revitalised Visitor Information Centre at The Entrance. 
  • Delivered major water and sewer upgrades in Gosford, and other sites across the Central Coast. 
  • Kickstarted the Gosford Regional Library project and began works on site.  
  • Awarded the contract for the Mardi Water Treatment Plant upgrades and kicked off this project. 
  • Allocated funding and contracts for the upgrade the Bateau Bay Sewage Treatment Plant. 
  • Conducted repairs and renewal of the Soldiers Beach stairs after storms caused major erosion and inhibited beach access. 
  • Completed Wyong Pool upgrades. 
  • Delivered new skate parks and pump tracks in Kariong and completed playspace renewals at 10 locations across the Coast, including the revamp of the iconic Rocket Ship Park in Long Jetty. 
  • Progressed the Colongra Sporting Complex development which will provide a major new sporting and recreation complex for the northern Central Coast region. 

I’m pleased to share that we’re heading into the second half of this financial year and the start of 2024 on schedule for our Capital Works Program delivery.  

Communicating with the community is important to Council, and we have kept the community informed of works in their area throughout 2023 via our 24/7 online Capital Works Program Map. We’ve also shared weekly road works updates on social media and launched various community education campaigns including promoting awareness of the accessibility of our shared pathway network. 

Delivery of region-shaping projects: 

  • This year we progressed the Gosford Waterfront project, successfully secured bipartisan support, and locked in $8.5M from the state government to begin feasibility studies, moving this exciting, region-shaping project forward.  

Consulted with the community: 

This year, we launched the 2023-2024 Community Engagement Plan, which provides the community with a list of all community consultation coming up during the financial year. 

We tackled some major, and at times, contentious projects this year. Some of the significant ones have included: 

  • The Dogs in Open Space Action Plan. 
  • Plans of Management for Community Land. 
  • The Wyong District Place Plan, which saw major planning for Wyong and Tuggerah progress.  
  • Water and Sewer community engagement and the development of their Customer Charter. 
  • The 2023-24 Operational Plan. 
  • The Safer Cities: Her Way project launched with huge levels of interest and engagement. 
  • The future of the beloved site at 1A Jaques Street, Ourimbah was decided in partnership with the community – including the hand-back of land from the University of Newcastle to the Central Coast community. 
  • We consulted on the future design of Pelican Park in Woy Woy and the community helped us land the final, blended design.  
  • We began early consultation on the next iteration of our most strategic document, the Community Strategic Plan. 
  • Council hosted the Central Coast Housing Forum with community representatives, industry experts and key stakeholders to find solutions to the housing crisis at the local and regional levels.  
  • Council launched Let’s Talk Gosford – which brought together the major projects in Gosford that we are engaging the community on, allowing people to see how each of these plans interconnect with one another and how they’re preparing our principal city for significant revitalisation in the years to come. 

In 2023, Council established an Aboriginal Advisory Committee and ran its first meetings.  

Our sporting fields hosted the Koori Knockout over the October long weekend, and we provided world-class training grounds and facilities for some of the world’s most elite soccer players – the German and English women’s national teams – as they competed in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sydney. 

We became the first local government area in NSW to sign up and support the national Sport4All program. 

Our Central Coast libraries celebrated 75 years of operation. 

We continued our partnership with and financial support of Surf Life Saving Central Coast.  

Events, arts and culture:

Council facilities and programs supported the development of arts and culture on the Coast, with:  

  • Gosford regional gallery showcasing a national touring exhibition from the Art Gallery of NSW, among dozens more exhibitions shown throughout the year. 
  • The Wyong Art House remained the centre of arts on the Central Coast, providing high quality entertainment, and taking out an award win.  
  • Our Council-run events injected millions of dollars into our local economies. This year, Council ran Love Lanes, Harvest Festival, The Lakes Festival, Chromefest, Tubular Music Festival, Flavours by the Sea, A Taste of Toukley and A Taste of Wyong, NAIDOC Week, National Tree Day events, free outdoor community movie nights, the Sustainable Future Festival, Garage Sale Trails, pet events including free micro-chipping and more.  
  • Council hosted a Civic Reception for the Central Coast Mariners A-League Men’s side who were crowned Champions of the 2022-2023 A-League season and Council awarded them the Key to the Coast for their incredible efforts. 
  • Artists on the Central Coast were embraced through a multitude of art prizes and awards, including the Emerging Art Prize, Central Coast National Art Prize, Grandma Moses Art competition and the Gosford Art Prize.   
  • We hosted Chemical cleanouts throughout the year, delivered school holiday programs across each school term break, re-established the much-loved Pelican Experience at The Entrance and expanded our youth programs to develop our future leaders. 


  • Tourism on the Central Coast boomed post-covid, with our $1 billion+ tourism industry employing over 5,000 people. 
  • The Central Coast was named as a top 10 travel destination in Australia, and we received some outstanding awards in this area.  

Award wins:

2023 was a stellar year of awards and recognition for Central Coast Council staff and projects. Some of these awards include:

  • Being named a finalist at the National Banksia Sustainability Awards. 
  • Buttonderry Waste Management Facility won the Environmental Enhancement Project Award at the IPWEA Engineering Excellence Awards. 
  • The tiny but mighty town of Spencer was named a finalised in the NSW Top Tourism Towns Awards. 
  • Council received award nods at the NSW Local Government Professionals Australia Awards. 
  • We won the prestigious science accolade, the Eureka Award, for creating safer water conditions. 
  • Our Tourism and Marketing Team’s efforts won Central Coast Council the Gold Award at the 2023 NSW Tourism Awards in the Local Government Award for Tourism category – this is after winning silver and bronze in the two previous years respectively. 
  • The Wyong Art House were the winner of Excellence in Large Business at the Business Wyong, Annual Business Awards.  
  • Council was awarded the top prize at the LGNSW Excellence in the Environment Awards 2023 in the category of Innovation in Planning, Policies and Decision Making for its geospatially based Environment Assessment Traffic Light Tool, while Council’s partnership with Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) in the Street Lighting Improvement Program was named as a finalist in the category of Sustainable Infrastructure.

Council finances

Council’s financial position continued to improve throughout 2023 and we achieved some significant milestones, including: 

  • For the second consecutive year, Council recorded a surplus in its annual financial report, which for 2021-2022 was $35M. 
  • For the first time in many years, Central Coast Council submitted its financials for audit on time, and indeed we received an unqualified audit – which is a ‘green light’ from the NSW Audit Office.  
  • We adopted our Financial Strategy and Long-Term Financial Plan. 
  • 2023 has been another transformative year for Council financially as we successfully transitioned from crisis recovery to financial stability, and we’re now working hard to continue moving toward long-term financial sustainability.  

I have highlighted just some of the many projects, programs and achievements that Council has delivered for the community this year – and while it is indeed a highlight reel, it goes without saying that 2023 has not come without its challenges. Whether it’s been heated debate about the dogs, land management, coastal erosion or trees – I am proud of the Council staff for approaching each challenge head-on and with integrity and always doing their best to provide the best possible service to the Central Coast community. 

Council will continue to do its best, to improve and to listen to the needs of our community as we work together in 2024. With the Council in a stable position, I look forward to transitioning to an elected governing body for the Central Coast community in September next year. 

Rik Hart, Administrator

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