‘THE SHIRE’: A TALE OF THREE JETTIES

There’s something almost surreal about standing and looking over an object that fits into its environment perfectly, that enhances its surroundings simply by being there, that seems like it has been there forever, but is set to disappear from view, for the whimsical short term gains of a clearly ignorant and questionably shady council.

Three jetties in the Shire (one at Gunnamatta Road, Cronulla, as well as the Scylla Bay Boat Ramp and Wharf, Como, and Burraneer Jetty at Lugano Avenue, Burraneer) have been earmarked for removal by the pathetic Sutherland Shire Council due to maintenance costs the council is simply not willing to wear. This is the same Liberal dominated council headed by (until recently) Mayor Kent Johns who is reportedly under investigation for accepting political donations for his Federal Campaign from property developers in exchange for reciprocal favours, at the same time rezoning large tracts of the Sutherland Shire to allow massive and unprecedented high rise developments, getting rid of the ombudsman who oversees corruption and even going so far as to protect developers from legal action against any wrongdoings. See the details here.

The corrupt Mayor Kent Johns. Image John Veage, Fairfax Media.

The questionable ex-Mayor Kent Johns. With power brokers like these at the helm of council, heritage is in trouble. Image John Veage.

For the locals of these areas, the jetties represent something more than just a form of aesthetic beauty. There is a function performed, a duty as it were, to the people of the Shire. Somewhere boats can tie up, kayaks can launch, a lazy line can be cast, and a sunny afternoon squandered happily away. There is nothing quite like sitting on the edge of a rickety jetty, dangling your feet over the edge, and mulling over a quandary or two while admiring the view of the world listening to softly lapping waters. Australia is a country designed for these jetties, and their loss makes us all a little poorer. Certainly our bays and hamlets would seem rather naked without them.

Heritage they are of course. Standing for many years and serving their purpose with quiet esteem, requiring very little to maintain in return, and beautifying the outlook like nothing else can. The Burraneer jetty stands watching the return trip several times every day of the 74 year old M.V. Curranulla, the Cronulla-Bundeena ferry, the oldest commuter ferry in fact in Australia working to a regular timetable. The jetty returns the favour, giving the passengers something to look at too, adding unquestionably to the maritime heritage of the bay and the Port Hacking River.

It appears as though this particular jetty suffers from sag due to insufficient and rotting piles holding its weight. A few more piles added and a bit of straightening would solve this problem, a far better alternative than the destruction of the wharf.

MV Curranulla ferry, the oldest continuos route in Australia, chugs nearby.

MV Curranulla ferry, the oldest continuous route in Australia, chugs nearby.

The other, at Gunnamatta Road, Cronulla (over 100 years old and formerly known as the ‘Hospital Bay Wharf’ built for taking quarantine cases from coastal vessels) doesn’t appear to have condemning maintenance issues at all. This one has received the most public attention, and may have garnered enough support to be saved yet, attracting a petition of 850 signatures in only 14 days, despite the council ignorantly rejecting and insisting the submissions be lodged electronically.

A third jetty, the Scylla Bay Boat Ramp and Wharf, at Verona Range, Como, is also proposed to go, but this one would at least be replaced under council plans.

At the time I investigated the Burraneer Jetty, it was a beautiful day, the sun was shining through an azure blue sky onto glowing waters. The Bundeena ferry chugged closely by as it had for many decades. I admired the reflections from crowded rock pools and sandy shallows up to the splintered hardwood timbers of a timeless whitewashed jetty.

While over at Gunnamatta Road, the view from the hill above was sublime. Stepping down the 1912-built steps carved out of sandstone onto the wooden landing is like stepping closer into a scene from paradise. Postcard-perfect, soaked in sunlight and there for us all, free of charge. A beautiful piece of man-made infrastructure that enhances its surrounds immeasurably while allowing the user to actually immerse himself and become part of the scene – such a rarity in any form.

A local was nearby, an old-timer looking over the scene. “Are you a local?” I asked.

“Since 1939” was the reply. But he seemed oblivious to the imminent loss of the wharf…

“That’s the wharf they want to get rid off” I commented.

“I hope not… This place is magnificent” was the reply.

If only he knew.

All images below by Inheritance 2013. Click on one for slideshow.

SMH story: Sutherland Council favours those with Liberal connections
SMH story: Rainbow Connections
SMH story: Cloud over ex-minister’s campaign donations
SMH story: September 21, 2013
SMH story: September 22, 2013
SMH story: September 26, 2013
SMH story: October 2, 2013

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3 responses to “‘THE SHIRE’: A TALE OF THREE JETTIES”

  1. Karen says :

    Love the site. Love the photos.
    On the Shire’s DLEP debacle, you missed 4 SMH articles.
    Could you please add these links into your article if at all possible?
    We need all the help we can get. Alleged corruption and over-development.
    The Shire, and all it stands for, will be changed forever.
    Bays are re-zoned. The Entertainment Centre is to be stolen from the residents via re-classification. Will it be replaced with a block of flats?
    Kind Regards

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/councillors-lobbied-for-support-20130920-2u5dg.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/planning-joke-needs-killer-punchline-20130925-2ueeh.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/the-liberal-mayor-the-state-mp-and-the-neighbours-fountain-20130921-2u6ls.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/council-sacks-liberal-campaigner-20131001-2uqr0.html

    • inheritanceorg says :

      Thanks Karen.
      Yes I agree, this is a savage attack on the residents of The Shire. And as more is revealed, it becomes all too clear the motivations of council and people like Kent Johns… It goes to show just how corruptible the planning system has become. The entire system needs rethinking. Unfortunately Premier O’Farrell is taking it the other way, allowing for more room for these sorts of scandals to breed.
      The Sutherland Draft LEP needs to be stripped back of the current council’s influence and re-written. Due to the number of investigations into the Mayor’s dealings (I believe three may be underway or soon underway), any changes he made in his Mayoral minutes or the current council in general need to be erased pending further review. That would be the only just result for the people of the Sutherland Shire. Anything less than that makes a joke of our democracy.

  2. inheritanceorg says :

    In a newsflash to the state government, the Libs got absolutely BLITZED in the state seat by-election of Miranda, as a direct backlash by residents against the development friendly draft LEP, Kent Johns and co’s questionable behavior, and the Liberal government’s Planning White Paper reforms. Barry Collier campaigned on a platform of stopping overdevelopment, and though this is a tough ask, he gained a swing of 27 percent against the Liberal held seat…
    Overdevelopment is NOT welcome in the Shire, the people have spoken.
    More details here: http://www.theleader.com.au/story/1854067/extreme-development-caused-swing-back-to-alp-in-miranda-says-councillor/?cs=1507

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