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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Where is the promised seaplane jetty

Facing considerable criticism over the removal of the off-ramp from the old Batemans Bay Bridge into Clyde Street it was agreed that Transport for NSW would fund a new pontoon for the foreshore that might help offset the potential losses faced with the removal of spontaneous visitors peeling off to visit the Batemans Bay foreshore. It was put to Transport NSW that the pontoon could also be used by seaplanes. There is an existing fleet in Eurobodalla and the prospect of more aircraft delivering passengers from Sydney and Canberra is well known. Next week Transport NSW will begin the installation of the new Batemans Bay Pontoon. It is understood that The Pontoon that is being installed is THE PONTOON that has long been promised. There is no other pontoon in the wings. The pontoon is the one that was agreed to as compensation for the major disruption to the township. The Batemans Bay Bridge replacement project UDLP – Community Consultation Report of September 2021 clearly states: "The pontoon has been designed to not exclude access by small sea planes. Sea plane operators and any other commercial vessels would be responsible for arranging required approvals should they wish to pursue use of the facility. The pontoon detailed design is currently progressing and further information will be provided to the community in coming months." Below is the latest image of THE PONTOON taken at high tide. Transport for NSW tell us it "has been designed to not exclude access by small sea planes" . The only problem is that sea planes have wings and wings don't like piles that stick up in the air and get in the way.

Above: the piers for the new floating pontoon at high tide. The use of the pontoon for seaplanes is also cited in the council's Waterfront Master Plan. Confusingly though Council have the seaplane pontoon further east along Murra Murra Mia walkway. So where will the seaplane pull up. At the Transport for NSW Pontoon that they advise "has been designed to not exclude access by small sea planes" or at a totally different pontoon that appears to be an add-on in an artist's impression on Council's Master Plan for the foreshore.

Above: Council's Concept Foreshore Master Plan saw 71% of survey respondents support a potential (now a reality) pontoon for seaplane tours. Council received 85 surveys, 30 comment sheets and some written submissions during the two week period allowed for community feedback. The surveys asked people to indicate whether they strongly agreed, agreed, were unsure, disagreed or strongly disagreed with the ideas presented on the concept master plans. The idea for a pontoon for the sea plane tours which received 71% support Sydney Seaplanes are one one possible provider who have indicated their interest in introducing new services between Batemans Bay and Moruya Airport (with amphibious craft), Rose Bay, Sydney and Lake Burleigh Griffin, ACT. Sydney Seaplanes have advise that, with a flight time of approximately 50 minutes, seaplane services would provide by far the fastest way of connecting local residents to Sydney and delivering high value tourists from Sydney to Batemans Bay. At just 25 minutes, Lake Burley Griffin to Batemans Bay is also a flight they could offer. The aircraft they are proposing to use on the route initially is the 10 seat Cessna Caravan, followed by the 18 seat Twin Otter. Both are amphibious so can also land at Moruya Airport if weather conditions necessitate. Fears are now held by the Chamber that the design of L-shaped pontoon on the Clyde River as part of the Batemans Bay Bridge replacement project which is being installed next week will not permit use by any sized seaplane. Seaplanes have wingspans of between 52-60 feet, which means about up to 25 foot of wing will overhang the dock. Traditional anchoring piles are therefore not suitable in the part of the dock that the seaplane is intended to use. Seaplanes need a flat section with no significant structures rising above the docks surface. Telescopic piles or chains and mooring blocks are commonly used to anchor seaplane docks as all of the equipment is under water.

From the drawings the Chamber has seen they would recommend, at the least, redesigning the most easterly piles and 'squaring off' the end of the pontoon. This would allow the seaplane to dock in any direction as ideally we need to dock the aircraft into wind. There are already other concerns around the pontoons and their durability. With work commencing from Tuesday 26 April until Saturday 14 May, weather permitting (between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm Saturday) there are concerns that it is too late to modify the design and that the promise of seaplane availability might be off the table. A possible solution would bet that three piers be converted to telescopic ones that rise and fall with the tide or for substitute intelligent anchor moorings to allow the wingspan of the planes to overhang the wharf for mooring and passenger access. If Batemans Bay is to consider the potential of having a seaplane service it is critical that the design be amended.

The matter has been referred to the Minister for Regional NSW. It was to have been followed up by Andrew Constance when he was the Member for Bega, however the enquiries initiated in November 2021 by the Bay Chamber received no response. The newly elected Member for Bega has been advised and is currently pursuing the matter.


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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