Tasmanians stick to the Devil they know (FERRY)

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Tasmanians stick to the Devil they know (FERRY)
From: John Gamblin <>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 23:59:58 -0700 (PDT)
Dear All,
Forgive me please everyone but this has so much
bearing on sea birds that not only fly above the waves
but some
that also try to fly below the waves, let alone the
birdo's that go out sailing, I felt compelled to
forward it on.

Yours Sincerely,
John A. Gamblin


"S.P" <> wrote:
Dear all,

Before I finally send that (formal) submission:
Article below (from The Age, bears similarity to the
current proposal, see at end of the following paras).

Apparently Welshpool's bid was abandoned for reasons
of safety.

Similarly two vehicles (fire engines, ambulances,
etc.) can not pass each other the length of the jetty
at Stony Point. What I am saying is that the jetty is
not wide enough to satisfy safety requirements (only I
don't know precisely what they are), & I guess that
it needs to be wide enough for vehicles to pass each
other in emergency. (the jetty was not wide enough at
Welshpool which was given as a reason to abandon that
proposal, at that time) The start of the jetty is a
bit wider then the section that follows. See photos
about 6 rows down at:

In addition a pedestrian path would be needed. Shuttle
bus will not be as well suited to regular inter-island
ferry users (French & Philip Islands)

I note that the proponent states that there is no
protected 'fish' in the general area, and Brian
Cumming's point that there are Australian fur seals.

Big issue about fish is that amongst those listed -
we/I can't tell which if any exist here because this
has not (to my knowledge) been documented anywhere.
All the more reason at least for a base line study and
a ongoing monitoring should the project proceed.

The proponents statement that there are NO (flora)
mangroves, saltmarshes (which are of National
significance) or seagrass is obviously incorrect and
misleading - this is clear from cursory glance at some
of the photos I placed on my web site (see: ). The

seagrass is directly below and all around the jetty, 
and the mangroves within less then 50 m from the site.
Question is what is "vicinity". Significance of this
is that 70% of the seagrass in the bay has already
been destroyed. They claim that these values will not
be threatened - but provide no evidence to prove it.

Listed threatened fauna (some of the birds), contrary
to claims, roost immediately adjoining (and directly
behind) the boat launching ramp - between the ramp and
Hanns Inlet, and beyond to Sandy Point (in the
mangroves and other coastal vegetation). Hanns Inlet
is also an important feeding area for the Royal
Spoonbill, as well as Commonwealth land (stretches to
Sandy Point).

Proponents in their application further state that
"other forms of marine life are also unlikely to be
concentrated in the proposed project area, etc." The
lady who runs the local shop has said that she has
around 40 or so short term fishing licences in a space
of a few months over summer. Given the remoteness of
the location (which is not well knows except by the
locals) - this demonstrates otherwise.

In fact during summer there are great many local kids
using the jetty to fish from, any not without success.
Other marine life, particularly in the shallow
mudflats are a large number of invertebrates,
according to literature there are four times more of
them in WP Bay then in Port Philip (some 1381
species). They are bound to be around the jetty. What
otherwise are the shorebirds in this location feeding
on? Draft Schedule (F8) to SEPP for Victoria
(Protecting Waters of Western
Port  and Catchment, by EPA) states on p.56 that " 
There is little long term monitoring data on
invertebrates and fish in WP ...", and likewise here
is 'limited available monitoring data' on marine
vegetation coverage. Objective of the new policy
(amongst other things) is to maintain, and in some
parts increase marine vegetation coverage. This will
not be able to be achieved with the arrival of the
ferry (I will later explain why, in my final

Note also that wake wash MAY impact on Tortoise Head
(as the ferry passes it) which is a significant
breeding area, as well as Seal Rocks (national
importance) and regionally important area known in
Western Port Bay Strategy as Crib Point West and HMAS
Cerberus (around Hanns Inlet).

Tortoise Head and Sandy Point which is the narrowest
part of the ferry's voyage (and where they also change
course and speed to enter the 'port' area channel) are
both 'high tide roosts in need of protection'. WPB
Strategy  pages 50 & 51). They are both also sites
of  state geological and geomorphological significance

Page 89 clearly states: "The natural resources of
Western Port are of outstanding quality and diversity
but they are very fragile and liable to be damaged or
destroyed by inappropriate port and industrial use and

Map on p.61 of WPB Strategy shows clearly the extent
of the sand bank immediately below Sandy Point (the
satellite photo doesn't pick up on this as well) which
acts to narrow the passageway that contains the
channel that the ferry much pass through, and where it
is likely it will still be traveling at high speed.
Coastal zone processes have already done enormous
damage to the coast beyond this bank (see photos at:

All this is also well documented in pamphlet Ramsar
Site 19. The WPB Strategy (under 'Coastal Processes')
recommends (p. 115 P3.5.1) that "Works or structures
proposed for the foreshore will be evaluated to
establish that there is no alternative location and
will be designed to minimize interference with natural
movements of water, sand and sediments. Clearly no
evaluation of any other site has taken place. Sandy
Point and Tortoise Head (which is the southwest point
of French Island) are also classified by the National
Trust. (p.100) WPB Strategy. Again the area between
these two points, containing the channel is at it's
narrowest point.

Another piece of information which may be relevant is
the identification of areas between Sandy Point,
through to Stony Point and almost right around the bay
of 'vulnerability to sea level rises' (possibly
of very low land elevation and 17 creeks draining into
the bay). (see p. 61 of WPB Strategy)

The relevance of my references to these other places,
away form the immediate area of the proposal is that
the impacts will not only be around the immediate area
of the proposed 'works' but a much wider area (site
and off site, on seabed, coastal area, and land as far
as Western Port Highway turn off with regards to

Another good news item for today is the announcement
of the new Marine Parks by the Minister for
that a 25 ha area at Honeysuckle reef will be included
(as per the proposal, as a 'special
management area') - it is near Shoreham. (and in
addition to a number of other marine parks and
protected areas within Western Port bay) 
Some people may think it a long shot that I feel
Honysuckle reef (and actually McHaffie Point too, and
sandy Point, and Tortoise Head) may potentially be
affected. The wake wash is said to travel up to 7
km (at this stage it reduces to only 0.5 m) , but
these reefs are nowhere near as far as that. 

Final Report can be found at:

Tasmanians stick to the Devil they know

Tuesday 29 August 2000 

The Tasmanian Government has scrapped plans to move
its troubled Bass Strait fast ferry
service from Melbourne, to the dismay of Gippslanders
who had been preparing for the change. 

Tasmania's Infrastructure Minister, Paul Lennon, said
operational safety problems prevented the ferry
using Port Welshpool this summer season. 

The change of heart came despite an offer of financial
aid to the port by the Victorian Government, and
the belief of the South Gippsland Shire Council that
the problems could be solved. 

?This has hit us totally from left field,? said the
mayor, Mike Wrigley. ?We are bitterly disappointed." 

Victoria's Minister for State and Regional
Development, John Brumby, had described the ferry as a
potential tourism and jobs windfall for the region. 

?The Victorian Government is disappointed with the
decision and has done everything it could to
convince the Tasmanians of the benefits of using Port
Welshpool,? a spokeswoman for Mr Brumby
said last night. 

?We have always indicated our willingness to negotiate
on possible assistance.? 

Instead, the revenue-losing service, to which the
Tasmanian Government is contracted for another
two seasons, will keep Station Pier as its Victorian
base for the run to George Town, in northern

Talks on shifting the Devil Cat began after a collapse
in passenger numbers last season, with repeated
cancellation in bad weather. Its 31,861 passengers for
the season was 40 per cent down on the
year before, and the service lost $6.7 million. 

Gippslanders' hopes were raised in February with the
release of a report to northern Tasmanian
councils by consultants Sinclair Knight Mertz,
recommending Port Welshpool as the preferred option
for such a service. 

It was favored as a shorter run four hours instead of

Gippslanders also hoped it would help open new travel
markets from Tasmania and NSW. Mr Lennon
said the only berth available was at Port Welshpool's
Long Jetty, a narrow pier with one-way
traffic, raising concern about dealing with

There were also worries about a vessel the size of the
91-metre Devil Cat. 

Cr Wrigley said safety problems had been discussed
with local emergency services repeatedly, and to
raise them as a reason for rejecting the port was a

?They were all able to be resolved," he said. ?We have
addressed all of the significant concerns from
our end, and there seems to have been total disregard
for the content.? 

A spokesman for Mr Lennon said the problems were
outside the control of Gippsland authorities. 

?TT-Line's interest is to make sure the operation is
safe, and that was the major problem," she said. 

Cr Wrigley said he wondered whether there was more to
the decision than met the eye, and the
Tasmanian Opposition has claimed the fast ferry is
being deliberately run down in favor of the larger,
and costlier, Spirit of Tasmania. 

Some at TT-Line were always opposed to shifting the
service, believing that not enough people would drive
through Gippsland to cross the strait.

Another article potentially of interest in considering
this proposal, which talks about
difficulties of berthing vessels in WP, dues to it's
prevailing winds (in summer Northerlies,
which will make it very difficult for Devilcat to
maneuver into the planned spot)) , and
extreme tides (around 3 meters) is the one published
only this Tuesday in the local paper
"Independent", reproduced with permission below: 

Ferry speed rule threat to service 
by Keith Platt 

VISITING French Island can be a hit or miss affair. 
The regular ferry sometimes is forced to avoid the
island's jetty at Tankerton, keeping passengers on
board for a later landing or abandoning their travel
plans altogether. 

Mr Frank Denvir, of Inter Island Ferries which runs
the George Bass ferry service from Stony Point,
blames the jetty design and unrealistic navigation
rules for the ferry's at times erratic timetable. 

"If we have to accept the five-knot rule near the old
pier there could be up to 200 days a
year when we can't go to Tankerton," Mr Denvir said. 
"With the nearly three meters tides in the bay there
are not enough landing heights for passengers to

"They've solved the problem everywhere else in the
world with landings that go up or down with the
tide. The system here is the same as 100 years ago." 
Mr Denvir said tidal currents were sometimes so strong
that it was impossible to safely take
the ferry up to the jetty within the five knot speed
"If you go five knots or less the tide can easily push
the boat across the channel onto the
mudbank," he said. 

"Last week there was a large gas tanker sitting in
channel empty and, despite a 14-knot northerly, it
was facing east-west. 
"With a tide like that imagine going up a100 metre
long channel at five knots and trying to berth. 

"You can never be sure of conditions until you get
there and then it's up to the skipper of the day to
decide if he can berth or not. 
"The law says we have to slow when 50 meters off the
old pier, but no skipper in his right mind will do
that. We should only be obliged to do five knots
within 50 meters of the new jetty." 

Mr Denvir said berthing at Tankerton's relatively new
concrete jetty was hampered by the old timber
He believed plans to demolish it were abandoned after
Parks Victoria decided it would be cheaper to
repair the rotting structure. 
"They were told it would cost $1.5 million to knock it
down and just $59,000 to strengthen it," Mr
Denvir said. 

A yacht owner has claimed his boat was damaged when
hit by the wake of the George Bass as it was
moored to the old timber jetty. 
Mr Denvir said Parks Victoria, which controls the
Tankerton jetty, had told him that landings and stairs
did not need to accommodate the disabled "because it
is not a house or structure that falls within the
The George Bass ferry, launched in December 1998,
carries up to 60 passengers. The service is
subsidized by the State Government. 

Above has a number of questions to be raised about how
Devilcat might manage, and
also about the extent of the works that will be
required to make the jetty useable. Dredging
may later be needed to facilitate a turning basin in
vicinity of the jetty and between the
channel.  Ferry will turn around before reversing in
to berth. 
See photos of Stony Point jetty (bottom of the page)

Works are capable of having a significant impact: 

1. By virtue of the actual works causing disturbance
to the sea floor, but the impact of proposal will be
to a wider area on land (traffic) 

2. By virtue of  the fact that they will facilitate
berthing of the fast ferry, which if not properly
will itself cause far greater impacts, both on safety
of other bay users, and ecological integrity of the
immediate, and probably much wider area. The potential
impact of the ferry operation itself appears to
not be adequately covered by the Environment Effects
Act 1978, since it is not considered to be
?works? as provided in the definition. 

3.  on existing ferry routes 


According to Captain Tony Beal (of TT line, in an
answer to a question) the keel to
seabed distance on low tide will be 2.6 m. 

According to the Harbormaster at Welshpool  (2nd hand
information which can be
verified at the Marine Board office at Bairnsdale) the
ferry had 'dug' a hole 3 meters
deep! (with it's propulsion system). 

To understand the potential impacts on the seafloor it
is important to appreciate the
propulsion system employed by the vessel: 

     it consists of 4 motors, two on each of the two
hulls, and 2 water jets per hull
     (4 water jets total) 
     Each engine is 7500 kw (total 30,000 kw), 
     by comparison a car is around 80 kw, so
equivalent to 375 cars, (or each engine
     to a sewerage pump, so equivalent to 4 sewerage
plant pumps operating
     water jet intake hole is 1m2 (one square meter
wide) approx. 
     Water is 'sucked' through intake hole directly
from the bottom (the hole is based
     third of the way forward on the hull which is
it's pivot point, it is expelled via
     the jet at the rear of the vessel 
     In neutral diverts water straight down instead of
expelling at rear of boat, 
     in reverse gear that it would need to use to
berth - it expels water down and

In all cases - seabed will be disturbed, twice a day
every day for 4.5 months of the

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