Postponing the dredging of the Ettalong Channel has left the Bouddi Peninsula without a vital ferry service for over a month, forcing people to “hitch a ride,” to the sleepy Hawkesbury town of Patonga.
The postponement has meant residents are struggling to get to work or school without a car.
Member for Gosford Liesel Tesch said, “The lack of interest from the NSW Government hurts the local community, with many relying on ferries to access work and school, as well as essential services.”
Year 12 student Patrick Sheppard lives in Hardy’s Bay, a 5-minute bike ride from Wagstaffe Wharf and is completing his HSC at Barrenjoey High School in Avalon.
“I’ve been forced to crash on mates’ couches the night before exams getting barely any sleep,” he said.
“I don’t have a license so there is no way of getting to Patonga in the morning.
“My final ATAR will definitely be affected because of the diversion.”
The strong link FantaSea Ferries has created with the Central Coast and the Northern Beaches is disrupted every decade with the shifting of the sand on the Ettalong Channel.
Following a review on June 13, Fantasea shared on social media that the diversion timetable would remain in force due to shifting sand bars and shallow operating depths in the channel. Saying it would conduct weekly assessments to determine when the Ettalong and Wagstaffe service could resume.
The idea of a shuttle bus to run from Wagstaffe-Ettalong-Patonga has been proposed by Tesch and the eager ferry go-ers await a response from Transport NSW. The introduction of a bus would allow those within walking distance of the wharves to catch a free shuttle straight to Patonga instead of finding their own way to the service.
Apprentice ferry operator Wylie Gill lives in Wagstaffe and was able to walk straight to work. The diversion of the service has left his commute to increase by 600% as it is a 30-minute drive to Patonga.
“We are all fed up with the neglect of the Central Coast from the State Government,” he said.
“I knew this issue would happen within the next few years and we have reached out for help only to be brushed off.
“The bus would be amazing as I am struggling to put diesel in my tank every week on an apprentice’s wage and have been forced to hitch a ride with mates.”
The aim of the dredging is to remove 10,000m3 of sand from two areas, south of the Half Tide Rocks and south of the Sand Spit. The dredging does not hurt native wildlife as it provides a freeway-like passage for marine life to migrate from Broken Bay into Brisbane Water during destructive times.
The dredging also allows the Central Coast’s beloved Box Head surf break to flourish as the mass amounts of sand dumped on Ettalong Point creates a 2km picturesque left-hand wave, bringing in mass amounts of tourism to the area.
The dredging is expected to take place in November leaving commuters waiting a total of 4 months for action to take place.