TAKE a stroll along Marine Drive near ANZAC Park and you can’t help but notice Tea Gardens slipway.
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It’s been a vital part of the community for over 60 years.
“The main purpose for the slipway’s existence is for the appropriate maintenance of vessels,” Slipway Association President Paul Bendy, told News Of the Area.
“Like all things, vessels need to be maintained to ensure they are safe, sea worthy, compliant with the various regulations and don’t become an environmental threat to our waterways.”
But over six decades the rules and regulations surrounding slipways have changed.
“Over time, the slipway itself has become non-compliant with today’s environmental regulations,” Paul Bendy said.
“Sixty years ago, there were probably not too many regulations in place to protect the environment, that has fortunately changed, but our slipway has not kept up with those changes.”
Last Friday, the Slipway Association met with representatives of MidCoast Council, EPA, Marine Parks and Crown Lands, the meeting designed to further the Tea Gardens Slipway Association’s project to ensure the slipway meets current standards and remains a feature of the waterfront.
“The project consists of extending the rails and moving the winch-house so the cradle can be moved to higher ground and out of the tidal zone of the Myall River,” Paul Bendy said.
“By doing this, proper catchment drains can be installed to collect and treat any run-off from the cleaning operations.”
Discussions have been underway for four years and the project doesn’t come cheap, but Paul Bendy believes it’s vital to keep a slipway in Tea Gardens.
“Having a facility like the slipway in our town is like having any other emergency service.”
“If any skipper found themselves in an emergency situation where their vessel was in danger of sinking or being a threat to our environment, the Slipway Association would make the slipway available to remove the vessel from the river to remedy the situation.”
It’s also been described as the marinas’ Men’s Shed where mates get together to repair and clean their boats.
Over the years the ferries have used it, the effluent boat still does, and it’s capable of lifting 30 tonne, more than enough to service houseboats and commercial fishing boats.
Paul Bendy is hopeful final approvals for the slipways’ re-construction will be through by the end of the year.
By: Margie TIERNEY