Myall River Natural Channel continues its march towards closed, no action from authorities

Winda Woppa sand stockpile in June (one month ago) for contrast reference.

THE Myall River’s Natural Channel is now almost completely sealed off from Port Stephens, a NOTA investigation can reveal.

Drone images supplied by the Myall River Action Group (MRAG) clearly show the immediate situation, with the channel now half its width of four months ago.

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An on-the-ground NOTA investigation, including empirical laser measurements, has revealed that the low-tide gap between Winda Woppa Point and the existing ballast rock wall is only 30m wide.

The gap from navigable depth is less, at about 20 metres, leaving a very narrow margin for error either side of a standard ferry or boat, not to mention the very real risk of running aground.

“The immediate observation is the sand build up through the main channel and the gap between Corrie and the rock wall,” Gordon Grainger, of MRAG, told NOTA, noting that the entire gap between Corrie Island and the ballast rock wall is now a dead-end billabong.

“The sand stockpile has been depleted considerably and may not make it to the proposed dredging campaign in 2025,” Mr Grainger added.

According to standing orders from a dense matrix of governmental departments, the only scheduled action for the river-mouth is a 5-yearly dredge activation, the last being back in 2020.

The stockpile has been eroded by natural forces (rain, wind and tides) with its northern wall appearing to crumble back into the channel whence it came.

Photographic evidence of the Natural Channel’s inevitable closure has now shifted focus to the artificial Corrie Island Channel, which also shows signs of silting up, mainly because of its westerly orientation, said MRAG.

At this rate, Y-Knot ferry skipper Noel Gaunt’s earlier prediction will undoubtedly come true – boating access via the Natural Channel will be precluded before Christmas 2023, making plans to dredge it in 2025 probably a bit late.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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