Scratchleys owner Neil Slater says he will not be revisiting his former "dream" of establishing a restaurant and accommodation on Nobbys headland after the federal government rejected his plans a decade ago.
"I would still like to see something significant up there, that said, I will not be the person trying to do it. If anyone is interested in doing that I've got a lot of knowledge about it. If I can be of any help I am more than happy to do so," he said.
The headland's owner, the Port Authority of NSW, is calling for community members to submit their ideas before October 30 for the use of the site's three cottages.
"We're open to lots of different ideas. It could involve private operators and it could include community groups. We're considering plans for the short, medium and long term," Port Authority of NSW's chief operating officer for Newcastle Emma Fensom said.
"It will also be informed by a conservation management plan that certainly has requirements in preserving the cultural and Indigenous heritage of the location."
The Authority has been opening the site to the public on weekends and public holidays since June, after it took over management of visitor services from Newcastle Now. Ms Fensom said it was seeing up to 1000 visitors on some days.
Mr Slater said any project would have to match Nobby's iconic status.
"I'm not downing someone that wants to put a coffee cart up there but this is the most significant site in Newcastle - I would like to think we can do better than that," he said. "Any operator is going to have to take on the insurance realities of the site and make enough money to support its constraints."
Gionni Di Gravio, University of Newcastle archivist and chair of Hunter Living Histories, said more attention should be paid to the former island's status as a sacred site of the Awabakal people before further decisions are made about its use.
"It's a matter of scale, of course, but I don't think a commercial operation should open up there. That's my personal view," he said.
"The problem with heritage sites is that they come under this pressure that they have to pay their way. My feeling is that shouldn't be the case. They should be respected and looked after by the Commonwealth or public estate, people should be able to visit and facilities can be located close by if they have to be there."
The headland was opened to the public on Wednesday for Newcastle's first cruise passengers of the season. Different ideas among visiting locals and tourists for the headland included a cafe and restaurant, boutique accommodation, a museum, benches, bathroom facilities and a historically-accurate restoration of the cottages.
Submissions can be made by emailing email@example.com, visiting the project's website or calling 4965 4317.
Suggestions can also be made in person at the headland on Saturday from 9am-10.30am, October 23 from 7am to 8.30am and October 26 from 2.30pm to 4pm.
In the news today: