AFTER decades of complaints about Warrnambool’s inadequate harbour a bold new solution has been proposed to spend about $6 million on a new breakwater extension plus a shore groyne wall.
If approved it would be the biggest alteration to the Lady Bay boat harbour since the historic stone breakwater wall was built more than 100 years ago.
Details of proposed improvements with two main options are outlined in a report released yesterday for public comment.People have until June 1 to provide their opinion before the plan goes back to a community reference group and the city council to decide if an application should be made for government funds.
Ports Minister and local MP Denis Napthine indicated such an application would be given favourable consideration because it would provide improved safety for boat users and a huge boost in tourism.
Both options involve construction of a 150-metre long groyne from a point on Worm Bay beach heading east into the bay.
Option one, costing an estimated $6.2m, has a 110-metre spur breakwater heading north-west at a right angle off the historic wall, with the tip set on a further westerly angle.
Option two at $5.9m also has a new 110-metre breakwater, but it would be stand-alone, situated several metres west of the existing breakwater wall.
The spur breakwater would have capacity to provide sheltered mooring for about 100 boats, while the detached wall would provide about 36 moorings.
Both would be designed to reduce damaging wave surge at the boat ramp.
Once a new breakwater and groyne were built further, work would be done to extend the groyne wall and make the area an official state marine- enclosed boating harbour.
The launching ramp would also be enlarged. But maintenance dredging would need to be continued.
The $70,000 feasibility study, completed by Water Technology and Meinhardt Group, was done in consultation with a community reference group comprising fishing clubs, the Coast Guard and city councillor Rob Askew.
“Each of the advisory groups has been wise enough to come up with the best possible solution, realising they would have to make some compromises,” Cr Askew said.
“We hope the community takes a keen interest in this and provides feedback.”
Another reference group member Neville Dance, of the offshore game fishing club, said harbour improvements were long overdue.
“There have always been Band-Aid fixes and a lot of studies, but now something positive has been proposed,” he said.
“The breakwater lower deck has just been fixed and now this safer harbour proposal, which will be rolled out in stages.
“Both the ramp and harbour need massive investment to get it to safer standards — something that attracts tourists rather than sends them away.
“It is unfortunate that Warrnambool’s launching ramp has been copping unfair comment on social media, which causes boat owners to bypass us, particularly for bluefin fishing.”
Dr Napthine said the state government’s recent $4.6m contribution to a $6.1m improvement of Portland’s recreational boat launching facilities showed support for regional ports.
“This feasibility study has identified two options, now it’s up to the community to come up with a consensus on the best way forward,” he said.