Port Kembla could become home to a $350 million eco-resort with a man-made wave pool for surf competitions, or an underground art gallery in the old military tunnels, according to a recently unearthed report spruiking the area's tourism potential.
Other ideas in the NSW government document include a snorkelling and diving hub at Fisherman's Beach and a historical precinct focusing on the Dalfram Dispute.
The report - the Port Kembla Destination Development Plan - was compiled in 2018 by Destination Wollongong and Cardno, following a NSW government grant.
Although it it now more than two years old, Wollongong MP Paul Scully published it on his website on Tuesday, saying he believed community groups and other stakeholders in the Port Kembla area had the right to see it as it was funded through Port Kembla Community Investment Fund (PKCIF).
Mr Scully said he had obtained the plan under the state's GIPA laws.
"My view was that something funded out of a public fund to provide ideas should be available to taxpayers," he said.
"Taxpayers paid for it, and there's nothing in there that's super secret and shouldn't be available for discussion.
"I think there's some interesting and exciting potential ideas in there that should be up for discussion and debate within the wider community."
Mr Scully also said he hoped the report could spark ideas as people apply for fund through the newest round of the PKCIF, which closes next month.
As well as detailing the gaps and opportunities in Port Kembla, the report has detailed five "transformative" or major projects.
The largest of the five would be the Coomaditchie Surf Based Eco Resort, which would be built on Crown and council land surrounding Coomaditchie Lagoon.
It would focus on "eco-tourism, Indigenous culture and surfing" and could include a surf academy and international-standard wave pool - akin to Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in California - to attract events, the plan says.
Boutique and budget accommodation cabins would cater to a range of tourism markets, and residents could access a wave pool and water park. All this would cost more than $350 million, the plan says, and would require a masterplan and vision document to progress.
Destination Wollongong's Mark Sleigh, who wrote the report's introduction, said it was "not top secret" and had been available to interested parties.
He said the ideas were intended as "a thought starter" and were not designed to be built straight away.
However, he also said the report could be useful as the region emerges from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, as developing new tourism attractions would be important for the region.
He noted such developments - like the mountain biking plans in the Illawarra escarpment - often had a long lead times, and said the report was designed to set ideas in motion.
Coomaditchie Surf Based Eco Tourism Resort
"The availability of Crown and Council lands in the areas surrounding Coomaditchie lagoon could be utilised as a large scale tourism resort with a focus on eco-tourism, Indigenous culture and surfing," the report says.
"The location behind Port Kembla beach allows scenic views of the ocean whilst providing easy access to a quality surf beach.
"A staged development could include a surf academy and international standard wave pool to act as a key attraction.
"The opportunity also exists to revegetate the site with native plants and incorporate an Indigenous education centre, exhibits, food, artwork and cultural tours to provide an authentic experience and preserve local Indigenous culture."
Features: Wave pool, water park, boutique and budget cabins, Indigenous education centre
Cost: $350 million
Timing: More than three years.
Hill 60 SCREAMer (South Coast Regional Educational Arts Museum)
"The Illowra battery tunnels and bunkers at Hill 60 present a unique opportunity to create a niche tourism experience encapsulating the rich history and arts culture of Port Kembla and the broader South Coast region," the report says.
"The well-preserved structure consists of two distinct tunnels, that if refurbished could allow for the display of Indigenous, industrial and wartime history in one wing, and traditional and modern arts in the second wing.
"The associated rooms and chambers are perfectly suited for display pieces, and there is a large central chamber joining the two wings that could be used for seminars, school groups and viewing of local films."
Features: Cafe with views from the bunkers, workshop for feature artists, world class art exhibitions.
Cost: $5 million
Timing: More than three years.
Port Kembla Cruise Terminal
With Sydney's existing cruise terminal facilities at full capacity, Port Kembla is ideally situated to provide an alternate destination for cruise liners to embark/disembark, freeing up valuable space at Sydney's premier Overseas Passenger Terminal for international mega liners," the plan says.
Features: Enhanced berthing buildings, new purpose-built cruise terminal.
Cost: $2-10 million
Timing: One to three years.
MM Beach Dalfram Precinct
"The 1938 Dalfram Dispute is a significant event in Port Kembla's history and relationship with China, when local steelworkers boycotted pig iron exports to Japan due to concerns of its use in weapon production against China," the report says.
"To commemorate this major event, a large monument is being constructed [this was completed in 2018] at the northern point of MM Beach and the opportunity exists to enhance the infrastructure and tourism offerings in the vicinity to cater for regular visitation by Chinese tour groups.
"In particular there is an immediate need for coach parking and bathroom facilities, which would benefit locals and tourists alike and improve the access and use of this significant beach front.
"Longer term there is scope to enhance the existing indigenous totem walk experience with live cultural performances, as well as a pop up cafe and souvenir facilities."
Features: Better facilities for Chinese tourists and other visitors, pop up cafe.
Timing: 6-12 months.
Fisherman's Beach Snorkelling and Diving Hub
"The development of Port Kembla as a snorkelling, diving, fishing and recreational boating hub could build on the existing natural attraction and put Port Kembla on the map," the plan says.
"The popularity of environmentally friendly artificial reefs as a renowned attraction has increased in recent years, offering a unique opportunity for Port Kembla. The introduction of a dive park in conjunction with utilisation of the existing natural reefs and marine life could create a cluster of attractions for divers and snorkelers.
Features: Dives with seals and fairy penguins, wreck dive, glass bottom boats, charter activities to the Five Islands.
Cost: $5-10 million
Timing: More than three years