KIAMA Harbour's long-awaited upgrade is set to continue with NSW Minister for Ports Duncan Gay announcing $212,500 in funding for a new wharf.
Part of Kiama Council's plans for the precinct since 2002, the 40-metre wharf will extend from the existing timber jetty on the right-hand side of the boat ramp before wrapping around the western pier head, meeting the Cargo's Wharf Restaurant car park via a flight of steps.
The wharf's completion would allow deeper water access for larger vessels, safer boarding for charter vessel patrons and improved accessibility to the boat ramp.
Kiama councillor Mark Way, who has fought for the new wharf since 1996, said he was "over the moon" to see almost 20 years' campaigning come to fruition.
"It's become a regional harbour - everyone south of Wollongong and north of Nowra uses this ramp," he said. ‘‘The fishing grounds at Kiama are fantastic and we’ve got a great ramp so once we’ve got this wharf, it’s going to be a valuable asset.’’
Member for Kiama Gareth Ward said the wharf’s construction would improve ‘‘a terribly under-utilised asset’’ and Mr Gay agreed all water users would benefit.
‘‘It’s going to be great for tourism, it’s going to be great for the security of the region because it adds to the ability of police and Marine Rescue to operate, as well as charter boat operators and recreational fishers, so it’ll be a win for everyone,’’ he said.
‘‘To design a wharf that works in not an easy situation is pretty damn good. I’ve seen the plans and they’re pretty impressive.’’
Kiama Council will provide the other half of the project’s $425,000 budget.
Cr Way said securing a toilet facility near the boat ramp would be his next project.
‘‘If I had a dollar for everyone who’s asked me for a toilet, we’d have it funded by now,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Liberal candidate for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, said she must wait until May’s federal budget estimates before the Coalition could make any election promises on the remaining Kiama Harbour and Headland Plan of Management items