All afloat in Woy Woy

Woy Woy is finally home to a state-of-the-art wharf featuring a floating pontoon, accessibility features, solar lighting and smart benches with mobile phone charging capabilities.

The wharf opened to a fanfare of music, chatter and anticipation on a sunny Monday morning (October 25).

A COVID restricted crowd of 50 invitees attended the opening, with guests such as local MPs, Council directors, business leaders, ferry operators and representatives of the local Aboriginal Land Council, treated to a jazz band on arrival.

The $5.6M project, which aims to improve the daily commute for locals and visitors, was officially opened by Council Administrator, Rik Hart, and Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch.

Hart said the wharf would help draw more locals and visitors to Woy Woy.

“It’s terribly important because it is a major commuter belt within Brisbane Water and so I’m expecting people to utilise it and you will see a lot of people here,” Hart said.

“It makes [Woy Woy] a destination now … people will come here and travel on the ferry, it makes a huge difference …it allows other retail, such as the food and beverage industries, to thrive so that’s what I expect will happen.

“It couldn’t have been done without the State Government’s contribution.

“The $1.6M that comes from us is renewal money – this is a renewal of an existing asset which means we have not had to find new money for it.

“Because it’s a renewal project, the existing maintenance and operating costs are still all built into our current budget, so it won’t have any impact.”

The upgrade also features mounting points for wheelchair lifting devices on the pontoon, a covered pontoon gangway and passenger shelter and a dedicated fishing area located on the corner of The Boulevarde and Brisbane Water Dr.

Crouch said the NSW Government was proud to contribute $4M to the project from the Regional Communities Development Fund.

“It’s so important the community has the necessary infrastructure from one end of the Central Coast to the other … to ensure we have state of the art facilities for locals but also for the thousands of people who visit,” Crouch said.

“It’s a testament to us as a community to deliver amazing infrastructure like this for everyone to use.

“I think most of us, at some point, have stood here looking like we’re walking on water in a high tide and no longer will that be the case.

“I know Central Coast Ferries will benefit greatly from this – it’s a wonderful economic investment, but it’s not just about the money, it’s about the jobs this has created during the COVID pandemic.

“It’s a great facility for our community to enjoy well into the future.”

Senior Master for Central Coast Ferries, Daniel Rond, said he had been campaigning for the wharf upgrade since 2012.

“This upgrade has improved [the wharf] so much that everyone now can actually catch the ferry,” Rond said.

“We had bad problems with the old wharf being [immersed] by the tide and disabled people had no access to the ferry because the gangplank was just too steep, and under water at sometimes!

“Central Coast Ferries and I have been campaigning for this right up until this moment … along with Liesl Tesch, we organised a petition with 4,000 signatures to be tabled in NSW Parliament.

“I was notified this morning that the wharf is up for some national awards – it’s a great thing for our community and the Peninsula.”

Rond said he was very happy with the wharf’s design but would like to see some fire suppression systems be installed.

“We had the poles recessed into the wharf so the gap between the vessel and the wharf wouldn’t be so large,” he said.

“We also had some proper bollards installed which were strong enough to hold our vessels and other boats.”

The official opening followed criticism levelled at Council and the NSW Government by Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, when the wharf’s opening was delayed.

“The wharf has been a long journey for the community, and it is the community who deserved to open the wharf and witness this historical event,” Tesch said.

“This has been in the pipeline since 2011 and in 2018 we pushed the NSW Liberal Government to give us our wharf with 4,000 people signed our petition.”

“People were already fishing off the wharf, riding their bikes along the path, enjoying their morning coffee on the benches and looking at the magnificent view off our wharf.

“It is a shame our community were not able to enjoy this facility during lockdown and I hope that other community resources are not put on hold again for ribbon cutting and formalities.”

Council Director Infrastructure Services, Boris Bolgoff said the project had been delivered under “challenging circumstances” given the current COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions at times halting construction.

“Within the last week, Council has been able to have contractors on site to finalise the wharf project and is pleased to open this long-awaited wharf upgrade to the public,” Bolgoff said.

“The original wharf would become submerged during King Tide’s and severe weather conditions but the new wharf is designed to ensure this no longer occurs.

“We have also future-proofed this important amenity by ensuring it can dock vessels up 35-metres and 250 tonnes.”

Local resident and president of the CWA Woy Woy, Jane Bowtell, said it was great to have a service accessible to all in the community.

“It’s something that we feel has been desperately needed for a long time,” Bowtell said.

“[The] contractors have bent over backwards to accommodate us so that we could still access our driveway and hire out the hall …Tom and the team, I just thank them immensely.

“We have members who travel on the ferry to the CWA … it’s wonderful, its lovely, its right on our doorstep and we couldn’t be prouder.

“It is well worth the wait.”

Gwen Dundon, a 91-year-old local historian and researcher, attended the opening and said it was a significant moment for the people of the Peninsula.

“I am so happy for the ferry owners that come in here because it really has been terrible for them at high tides for so many years, with the old wharf often going under the water,” Dundon said.

“This wharf is a huge improvement and can only bring more tourists to Woy Woy.

“The wharf has always been of importance to Woy Woy in the past, and in the present to some extent, with people who came to the Coast for holidays always getting off at Woy Woy station because Woy Woy had all the ferries that kept the Coast connected.”

Maisy Rae