The proposed lookouts offer a new visitor experience to the area of North Head, traditionally known as Car-rang gel, supporting the future identity of the precinct by responding to its rich history and establishing a world-class attraction that caters to both the local community and an international audience.
To mitigate the risks of potential cliff falls and the damage caused by recent bushfires, the new viewing platforms have been relocated to better respond to the unique characteristics of the headland and provide a safer, more enjoyable viewing experience all year-round. Two new lookouts are proposed; the Yiningma Lookout to the North provides a vantage point to look back at the cliff face and breathtaking views to the horizon that are perfect for whale watching; the Burragula Lookout to the South allows for panoramic views of Sydney harbour, creating the ideal spot for events like the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, or simply, to watch the sun go down.
Connecting with Country has been central to the design from the outset, ensuring that the lookouts acknowledge and connect with the history, stories and place that is called Car-rang gel. Driven by this approach, the lookouts are designed to merge comfortably with the landscape by expressing the durable and earthy materiality of the surrounding sandstone and vegetation. Stone pavers are used to line the pathways, knitting into the existing rock so the boundaries between built and natural forms are blurred. At each of the platforms, seats are carved out of solid stone and arranged to form a gathering place where ceremony, teaching and meetings may occur.
In addition to this, the shapes of the platforms trace the natural contours of the topography below and express local landforms, making visible the often lost or indiscernible patterns of the ground on which the visitor stands. These curves – much like Sydney harbour – create a series of “outcrops” that focus the visitor’s attention to specific outlooks and offer a place to gather. These features aim to enable a ‘reading’ of Country that emphasises a connection to place and an appreciation of the landscape. To heighten the sense of standing on the cliff edge, the platforms have been gently raised above the ground to offer an elevated outlook from which the visitor has access to the numerous and magnificent prospects of Sydney Harbour. Only at this point, perched above the Tea Trees and Banksia Scrub, can one begin to comprehend the history, the beauty, and the vastness of the land that is Car-rang gel.