Recent king tides which have left Woy Woy wharf under water have prompted Central Coast Ferries to renew calls they have been making since 2010 for the upgrade of the wharf.
However, the call has been to no avail, according to ferry master Mr Tim Conway.
He said he was drafting yet another email to the Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch, Member for Robertson Ms Lucy Wicks and to mayor Cr Jane Smith about the danger represented to ferry passengers when the Woy Woy Wharf is under water during high tides.
“It has been an issue for us since 2010.
“I have gone through all my emails and we have been expressing concern for a long time,” Mr Conway said.
He said it should not matter that the king tides are intermittent and that the periods of time the wharf is under water are relatively short.
“Those conditions make it impossible to get passengers on and off due to the slant of the gang plank,” he said.
“The wharf is 40 years old, the timber poles are rotten, the planks are lifting off and coming apart.
“The Council has cut the rot out of three poles so they can’t be used to tie off the vessel.
“The Council put stainless steel bands around the rotten poles to keep them together instead of replacing them.”
Mr Conway said services may have to be cancelled during high tides when the wharf is under water.
“We have a contract with the NSW Government to deliver wheelchair access services and I have photos showing that we have been unable to get wheelchair bound passengers onto our accessible vessels because the wharf was under water.”
According to Mr Conway, 80 per cent of Central Coast Ferries’ passengers would be elderly or disabled.
He said the ferry company’s government contract was to deliver passenger services between Woy Woy and Empire Bay via Saratoga and Davistown and that contract required the use of the Woy Woy passenger wharf.
Central Coast Ferries also runs history tours and lunch tours from Woy Woy Wharf and, according to Mr Conway, it is also used by the Lady Kendall and many private vessels.
“Boats come in to stop for lunch at Woy Woy and when they see they can’t use the wharf they go back from where they come from or find somewhere else to go.”
Mr Conway said he believed the lack of safety at the wharf during high tides was impacting on commuters, shoppers and tourists.
“Other wharfs have been completely rebuilt but when the Councillors inspected all the wharfs in 2010 Woy Woy was number one on the list to be upgraded and we are still waiting.
He said he had seen wharfs upgraded at Koolewong, Saratoga, Gosford and Ettalong but Woy Woy, one of the busiest, remained in disrepair.
Central Coast ferries carry around 6000 passengers via the Woy Woy Wharf per month, a figure Mr Conway said would only represent a small percentage of the total number of people who used the wharf in any given month.
Central Coast Council responded to the concerns raised by the ferry company and members of the public during the recent King Tides.
“Central Coast Council is aware that when king tide events occur twice per year, Woy Woy Public Wharf can be covered in water for a brief period,” a media release from Council stated.
“To improve the safety and useability of this facility, Council has adopted a concept plan for replacement of the wharf and associated infrastructure.
“These plans are being utilised to seek grant funding, with the latest application shortlisted for consideration under the Restart NSW – Regional Growth – Environment and Tourist Fund.
When successful in securing grant funding, design and construction for a new public wharf at Woy Woy will provide a fully accessible facility at all times.”
Interview, 8 Dec 2017
Tim Conway, Central Coast Ferries
Media release, 8 Dec 2017
Brian Bell, Central Coast Council
Reporter: Jackie Pearson