2016 Media Releases

UPDATE: Haven Amphitheatre

31 March 2016

Willoughby Council is progressing proposed plans for the Haven Amphitheatre in Castlecrag, with Council (Tuesday 29 March Council meeting) endorsing baseline works that will make the site safe and publicly accessible.

The $163,000 worth of baseline works will include removal of the existing stage and undercroft, creekline rehabilitation and terrace steps restoration. These works will allow the Haven to be used as a low key performance space and as a passive recreation space within a bushland setting – in keeping with the original use and design of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Lucy Mahony in the 1920s. Council aims to commence works before the end of this financial year.

Council will also move forward with submitting a Development Application (DA) before 30 June for proposed plans (Option 1A) to build a new stage.

The preferred option considered by the community, committee and council provides for a new stage in approximately the same location as the current one, with an increased stage height designed to allow the free flow of the creek in rain and storm periods. An undercroft would include two access points to the stage, changing rooms, toilet and shower, and a storage/electrical rack room.

Further progress on the new stage proposal, beyond DA submission, is dependent on Council’s 2016/17 budget cycle and other funding options, including grants and community fundraising. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.23M, with the DA conditions allowing the stage to be used for a maximum of six performances per year due to ‘existing use’ provisions.


  • The Haven Amphitheatre, Castlecrag is a unique performance space which brings the community together to enjoy cultural events in a natural bushland setting.
  • The site’s history extends back to the 1920s when it was first designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Lucy Mahony, and used as a community theatre space, without a stage.  
  • In the 1930s the new residents of Castlecrag, with the help of local sculptor and stone mason Bim Hilder came together to construct “The New Haven Scenic Theatre” as their first community project.
  • The current stage at the Haven was redesigned by local architect Robert Sheldon and built by the community in 1976.
  • The stage was upgraded by Council in 1992-94 with the assistance of a NSW Government grant - including an undercroft, 100sq.metre stage, underground power, lighting and seating for more than 300 people.
  • The stage is now at the end of its building life and has been fenced off from active use since 2014. 
  • Willoughby Council has been working with local Castlecrag community groups to develop plans for the site that meets community needs, while also addressing engineering, environmental and historic factors.
  • Council considered a report on the future of the stage at its meeting on 14 December 2015, and endorsed the public exhibition of the preferred Option 1A for the new stage.

Media Contact
Acting Marketing and Events Manager
Phone: 9777 7703
Mobile: 0455 061 700
Email: Samantha.Connor@Willoughby.nsw.gov.au 

For non media related enquiries contact Willoughby City Council on 9777 1000 or email@willoughby.nsw.gov.au