4 November 2022

Restoration works start at Tathra's 'grand old girl', its historic wharf

| Albert McKnight
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Work has begun to restore the much-loved Tathra Wharf. Photo: BVSC.

The first stage of the Tathra Wharf restoration has begun and the works will ensure the future of the “grand old girl”, which holds a special place in the memories of all its visitors.

Tathra Wharf Museum committee president Lynne Waterson-Darmody said the trucks had arrived on Monday morning carrying timber.

“What is exciting is the teams in place are the same crew who did the 2016 renovations and they did such an amazing job,” she said.

“It [the renovation] means everything to the Tathra people. It means everything to all the people who ever visited Tathra.”

Ms Waterson-Darmody said the wharf was special because of the childhood memories so many people had of it, and because it was the last surviving original deepwater wharf on the eastern seaboard of NSW.

READ ALSO Restoration works locked in for Tathra Wharf: ‘It has to be fixed or it’s lost’

“It truly is the last of its kind and we want it to be retained as best it can,” she said.

“She’s a grand old girl. I want her to remain looking grand and not like some shopping plaza.”

Bega Valley Shire Council assets and operations director Ian Macfarlane said the six-stage works program, by contractor GPM Marine Constructions, was based on a detailed condition assessment of the structure.

“The works will essentially be ‘like-for-like’ and include repair or replacement of piles, structural timbers and decking, concrete footings and pads plus many ancillary items such as the handrails, stock race and ladders,” he said.

“The scope of the works also recognises the importance of the marine ecology beneath the wharf and includes harm minimisation measures, such as seahorse relocation by accredited divers and marine growth preservation and promotion of recolonisation.”

The stage one works will involve the replacement of the stockyards and part of the stock race, as it will be used for public access to the wharf for visitors in the later stages.

Mr Macfarlane said the works needed to be undertaken in stages as the heavy equipment used in the restoration could not be placed on the original, unrestored wharf structure.

READ ALSO Tathra museum celebrates 160 years of its iconic wharf

“The contractor will initially work from the wharf ramp, which was replaced after the 2016 east coast low damage, and then across the remainder of the wharf,” he said.

Public access to the Wharf Cafe, museum and part of the wharf deck will be possible during the works.

The renovations are expected to take about one year to complete. The NSW Government is investing $7.81 million via Crown Lands to support the upgrade.

On completion of the substructure restoration, the wharf building is set to undergo works on cladding, weatherproofing and utility services. This will require a separate heritage approval and tender process.

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