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The Quest for Boat Ramp and Jetty

dougkSun, 12/06/2016 - 11:13pm

The struggle for water access in North Arm Cove - including a community boat ramp and jetty - has been a long one which, until now, has always met with disappointment. For almost 50 years the Residents Association (which has over time also been known as the Progress Association and the Village Association) “water access” has been a recurring issue of concern.

Both the Walter Burley Griffin original and Henry F Halloran's subsequent early 20th century designs for "Port Stephens City" included multiple public jetties. Boat ramps in the early 20th century were not, of course, a consideration.

There have been, over the past half century, a number of “informal” launching sites but as the village has developed these have either disappeared or become less accessible. Casuarina Park (also known as Cove Gateway), Water Street, Wide Bay and Beauty Point have all been used as informal community launching sites for trailerable boats and sometimes still are - with varied degrees of success. The planned dinghy launching ramps at Casuarina and Water St will however prevent vehicle launching at those sites although they will facilitate hand launching of dinghies.

The first mention in the Association's records of a boat-launching area was the small “Reserve for Water Access” located between 108 and 110 Cove Boulevard (lots 506 & 507). At just its second meeting way back in the year that it was formed (1967), the Association resolved to write to Council “asking that gravel be provided for the right of way between Blocks 506 & 507 in order to facilitate the launching of boats”. Some gravel was supplied but only at the top. Members felt that this totally inadequate and a further letter was written “asking that more be done to make it more suitable for launching boats”. A few dinghies are still hand-launched from this mini-reserve.

The matter of a boat ramp continued to be pursued by the Association. In 1973 the President was empowered to discuss the matter with the engineer. In 1974 a motion to request Council to “provide a launching ramp, parking space, picnic area, toilets and bin between lots 345-346” was passed. This is the area we now call Casuarina Park – although in the 1970s this public reserve was three times the size that it is now.

A major push by the Association for a community boat ramp and jetty began in 1993 culminating in a detailed submission to Council, State Government and the Maritime Services Board. The proposal canvassed six options within and adjacent to the village.

At a public meeting held in July 1994, there was strong support for a boat ramp - but “outside the village area”. A small majority at that public meeting believed that a jetty was not necessary. Support for a jetty within the Cove village area has however grown significantly since then. Boat ramp and jetty have both remained at the top of the “wish list” for many years.

There have been numerous submissions and reports since that time including in 2002, 2003 and 2006.

In 2010 master plans were developed for Casuarina and Water St. The final approved master plans for these two reserves thus included dinghy launching facilities only at both sites and a community jetty at Casuarina.

In 2012, agitation about the lack of boat ramp and jetty in the Cove was front page news in the Myall Coast NOTA. This prompted the then Manager of Parks and Recreation at GLC to investigate Heros Bay. Heros Bay is the one sandy beach area readily accessible to the public within the village and while people wanted a boat ramp in the village they were not at all keen on losing this popular family swimming and kayaking area. The master plan developed for Heros Bay includes future provision for a jetty/board walk and dinghy storage. Dinghy launching facilities are not necessary at Heros due to the gently sloping sand.

Also in 2012, Great Lakes Council tooks steps to develop a Boating Strategy Document. Despite an initial submission and a response to a draft which essentially ignored North Arm Cove, the final Strategy Document basically told the Cove community they would have to make do with the boat ramp in Karuah.

In 2014, the NSW Government initiated a review of boating infrastructure needs throughout the State. The Residents Association encouraged individual responses and also made two detailed submissions. There was considerable delight in North Arm Cove that its needs for boating facilities were finally recognised. And that funding was allocated for an expert investigation into potential sites for community jetty and boat ramp in and near to North Arm Cove. This investigation is currently underway with recommendations expected later this year.

After 50 years of struggle there is now some cautious hope of success.


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