Major repairs are needed for the Coffs Harbour Jetty. Photo: Trevor Veale
Major repairs are needed for the Coffs Harbour Jetty. Photo: Trevor Veale

Coffs’ icon in urgent need of costly repairs

ONE of our most iconic landmarks is in trouble.

Recent repair work on seven spans of the Coffs Harbour Historic Timber Jetty revealed it was in much worse condition than previously expected.

While it remains safe for its current use, the Jetty could require a major renewal of the remaining 53 spans within the next two to five years.

The cost of the work could be as much as $20m and lead to partial or complete closure for long periods of time.

Loved and photographed by several generations of locals and tourists alike it is the last surviving State Government-built jetty in NSW from the late nineteenth century. It was built to facilitate coastal shipping between Sydney and Brisbane.

Work was initially completed in August 1892. Since then it has been widened and narrowed in parts. It has also been lengthened at one point before finally being shortened.

Coffs Harbour Jetty.
Coffs Harbour Jetty.

The Jetty is currently supported by approximately 750 piles and is 450m long and built entirely from timber.

In 2018 Council resolved to begin the process of having the Jetty listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

The determination is expected later this calendar year. If listed it could open up a number of funding avenues but such grants are often modest amounts up to $100,000.

With the repair bill expected to be anywhere between 16 and $20 million another option is to apply for State and Federal funds.

A number of option have been outlined to reduce the cost of repair work including reducing the number of support piles by up to 50 per cent.

The Jetty was originally designed as a working structure, capable of running heavy loads on both rail and trucks but now, as it's limited largely to pedestrian use, the removal of piles is possible.

 

Underneath the Coffs Harbour jetty. Photo by Jenny Ellem
Underneath the Coffs Harbour jetty. Photo by Jenny Ellem

Alternate materials such as steel and composite fibre could also be used to reduce repair costs.

Ownership and responsibility for the structure is another complicated issue.

In 1990 Coffs Harbour City Council was approached by the State Government to take over ownership of the Jetty.

Council was very reluctant to accept future responsibility due to concerns about its structural integrity and the potential cost to ratepayers for ongoing maintenance costs.

There were also concerns regarding the level of risk exposure and liability.

After a decade of negotiations Council reluctantly agreed to take on responsibility for the care and maintenance of the Jetty on the condition it was retained as a Crown asset of the Coffs Coast State Park of which Council is the Crown-appointed Manager.

Council has also reserved its right to resign from its role as the Crown-appointed Manager of the Jetty without resigning as Manager from the entire State Park.

A report on the matter will be up for discussion at this week's Council meeting.



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