Catherine Hill Bay jetty should be restored and opened to the public like Coffs Harbour jetty, a Hunter tourism operator says.
Dominic May, owner of adventure boat Coast XP, has started taking tourists to the jetty as part of his coastal tours, which head south from Newcastle.
A former Coffs Harbour resident, Mr May draws parallels between the tired landmark and the saved and restored Coffs Harbour jetty.
“There was a time when they talked about decommissioning the Coffs Harbour jetty,” he said.
“But instead they reduced it in size and then restored it, and now people use it every day.
“There’s no reason why the same thing couldn’t happen with Catherine Hill Bay jetty.
“If it was restored to a workable [state] so the public could enjoy it, then it could be around for a lot longer.”
Coffs Harbour jetty was closed to the public in 1990, but because it was heritage listed and the only remaining jetty in the North Coast region, the NSW government decided to conserve it.
With significant community support, restoration work began in 1996 and the jetty reopened in October, 1997. More works occurred in 2008, including the replacement of 40 timber piles.
The jetty is now an iconic piece of council-maintained infrastructure in the city and is used for walking, swimming and fishing.
Mr May, a University of Newcastle business and entrepreneurship graduate who majored in tourism, says a restored Catho jetty would likely become one of the most visited landmarks in the Hunter and enable further tourism opportunities.
He says tourism ventures, like Coast XP’s tours, can shine a new light on the Lake Coal-owned structure.
“We drive basically right up to the jetty,” Mr May said. “Under six knots, you can get right up next to it. It’s the same with the sea cave.”
“It’s something that this boat can do so comfortably, there’s nothing else like it around this area … it will be something people will have never experienced before.”
Lake Macquarie council wrote to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage in July to express “strong support” for Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association’s bid for a 12-month protection order on the jetty.
The association’s bid – yet to be decided on – involves investigating adaptive reuses of the 240-metre jetty, either in whole or in part.
The jetty, which was used until 2002, is the most recent of three coal loading structures that have stood on the site since the 1870s.
Lake Coal have previously indicated they would contribute funds towards a suitable adaptive reuse project.
Coast XP’s first official Catherine Hill Bay tour departs at 9am on Thursday.