Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Jetty Designs Well-Received By Paul Gellatly

The design agency behind the renovation of Bowen's historic jetty has come up with a novel way to avoid the astronomical cost of removing many of the structure's imposing concrete pilings.

North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) put its renovation plans for the jetty to the acid test last week when it made its pitch to the town's Chamber of Commerce June meeting.

An audience of around 50 attended the chamber's June meeting to see NQBP CEO Brendan Webb unveil two design options, by design bureau Arup, with option one having the existing rock and concrete section of the existing jetty annexed to provide a straight structure with a loop at the walkway end, and option 2 featuring a curved design on a new walkway extending from the end of the existing concrete structure.

The now visitor-unfriendly jetty's future is a matter of deep concern for Bowen, where it has operated since shortly after the town's establishment in the 1860s.

As detailed in a previous issue of Mackay and Whitsunday Life, NQBP embarked on an exhaustive process with Bowen's community and interested parties to reach designs suitable to all interests.  

There had been fears about the potentially excessive cost of removing decrepit concrete pilings and Mr Webb said while they had "well and truly had their service life", they would be retained as they had become "part of the environment". He said their marine life-encrusted state made them perfect for the reef protection emphasis of the project.

First reactions from the meeting were good, and aspects of the designs, such as a mangrove boardwalk to be built in beach vegetation to the right of the entrance of the jetty as in option 2, led Mr Webb to remark that the final design for the project "might well be a combination of the two options".

Mr Webb said the design options for the future Bowen Jetty seek to offer residents and tourists a captivating space to connect with the marine environment and enjoy leisure activities.

He said the deck of the new structure would be raised by in excess of a metre as seawater was already lapping over parts of the existing structure when tides were high. When completed, the renovated structure would retain existing lower walkways to facilitate fishing during low tides. While he said some people may disagree about the reality of climate change, for planning purposes "it's a reality".

The design parameters included the raised deck height, jetty widening (for access by emergency services, for example, and easier access for visitors), highlighting of history and heritage, providing a 100-year design life, environmental considerations, planning, and providing the project within a $50M budget.

Of particular concern to Mr Webb is the user-unfriendly condition of the deck. "There's less ruts on the cape than there are on the jetty," he said. "What we're aiming for is a shaded area where people can meet up."

The renovated jetty would no longer allow for large vessel berthings as is currently facilitated by the NQBP arm of the jetty, which has been removed in both design options. Careful consideration also would be needed for any businesses located on the renovated jetty to avoid upsetting shore-based concerns. A feature of the jetty renovation could be 'pop up' stalls.

Mr Webb said NQBP would have a 50 per cent stake in the project and was liaising with the council for it to take a role too, to produce a facility that would remain in Bowen's hands. "You can't sell it; it's a great project," he said. And he doubted that a potential change of state government later this year would see the project cancelled as it was to be built on mining royalties won by miners who lived in Bowen.

Mr Webb said construction was slated to take place between 2025-2027.

Two million dollars were committed for this year and next for detailed design works.

Chamber chairman Bruce Hedditch said while he had been hopeful the existing structure could be retained, he had to bow to the inevitable and accept that the two design options offered the best compromise.

The Bowen jetty roadshow will continue with the project team to attend the Bowen Show on June 25.

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