Good morning Deputy Mayne, Councillors, General Manager, Staff, Gallery, those people at home comfortably Live Streaming and my Mum watching over me from above – My name is Patricia Hellier and I am from North Batemans Bay.
Item No. 16/009 Bateman Bay Bridge As I have stated we live at North Bateman’s Bay and have done so for over 16 years. When we purchased our property we knew that there were regular times when traffic stopped for the opening of the bridge and have always known the approximate times. If we had an appointment in Batemans Bay we always allowed for such delays.
As a child my family holidayed in Bateman Bay from the late 50’s early 60’s. I was one of those fortunate children that experienced crossing the Nelligen River by the Punt. Hours would be spent waiting in line for the punt and many a man enjoyed a schooner or two at the Nelligen Pub while us kids had to wait patiently, and on sighting of the punt there would be a loud scream from all the kids “Dad the punt is coming, the punt is coming” and a steady stream of men flowed out of the pub. Those were the days before the Breathalyser. In the year 1963 30,000 vehicles used the punt, and in 1964 the Nelligen Bridge was opened.
My family camped at the council caravan park at Hanging Rock and life was a lot simpler. When we needed to pick up ice for our esky my Dad would fish on the bank on the north side of the bridge. I remember clearly the highlight for me was sitting waiting patiently to see the bridge rise. My own children have enjoyed the experience of sitting watching the bridge and now I have sat with my grandchildren and they get great delight watching the Merinda Ferry leave the wharf and travel under the bridge and watch it come out the other side on its way down to Nelligen.
As we are all aware on Saturday the 8th October there was a problem with the bridge. I have been told that many people took advantage of an offer by an owner of a house boat to ferry them across the river to Batemans Bay and later back to their cars. A hairdresser in the Bay has told me they normally close at 12 noon, that day they were kept busy until 4pm, many business experienced an increase in trade and income that day.
I have undertaken some research and found in their busiest times the Merinda attracted 120 Coaches filled with people in a one year period. I have spoken to a proprietor of an accommodation outlet who has told me that a number of their guests from overseas especially those from the UK come to Bateman’s Bay to enjoy the experience of travelling on the ferry and to watch and film the raising of the bridge and I know that business’s in Nelligen experience an increase in revenue due to the ferry stopping at the village.
I believe the logistics of the Merinda having to leave from the west side of the bridge will be a near impossible situation. There will be an issue of the fuelling of the vessel, an issue of parking on the west side of the bridge, and then of course there is the selling of the tickets and cooking of the meals at the Boat Shed to be taken into consideration. Whilst some take for granted the opening of the bridge and see it as time consuming interruption of their day many see it as one of this towns tourist attractions. I am pleased to be a family of which four generations have had the pleasure of witnessing the bridge open and I am hoping that it will be retained until the new bridge will be completed. My understanding from a statement from Mr Warren Sharpe at the last Council meeting is the Marine vessels have a precedent over any other vehicles therefore I ask you the Councillors to think seriously in relation to this matter. Thank You
Above: Photo of the Batemans Bay punt is from the rich collection of photos and stories on the Nelligen Blog