Thursday, 6 May 2010
Rowing in Walsh Bay, NSW
Last week a business trip took me up to Newcastle, 2.5 hours north of Sydney. After puzzling over the logistics for a few days I took the opportunity to travel up the night before with my Swift Dory on my roof racks and stay at a friend's place at Lake Macquarie just south of my destination. Waking early I snapped a pic of sunrise on the lake and travelled the 30 minutes into the city arriving at Horseshoe Beach at 7:15am.
Launching from the beach I travelled west then north to Walsh Bay Reserve about 3.5km away. The vantage point provided a good view of a couple of coal ships one of which, the Hanabusa, was being loaded at the Carrington coal terminal.
Newcastle is one of the busiest harbours in Australia and I understand the biggest coal port in the world. Last year there were about 1000 coal vessels loaded and around 100 million tonnes of coal exported. It was an unseasonably warm morning. Is there any connection between that and 100 million tonnes of Newcastle coal going up in smoke?
The dredging process itself is called trailer-suction dredging. The dredger lowers its dredging arm, which is a large pipe of about a metre diameter, to the harbour bed. Water is pumped into the pipe to remove the air to create suction. This allows the excess mud and silt to be sucked from the harbour bed (something like a huge vacuum cleaner) as the dredger is manoeuvred through the area requiring dredging.
She removes approximately 500,000 tonnes of actual silting material a year, with about 1000 trips to the spoil ground, which is 1.5 miles South East of Nobbys Head. (Source Newcastle Port Corporation).
I headed east back to the Horseshoe Beach and inevitably struck up conversations with first a kayaker and then, after landing, a fellow who wanted to know more abot the dory and where he could get one. So far in my rowing I have only twice come across non-competitive row boats on Sydney Harbour. Kayaks and surf skis are by far and away more popular. Having been a kayaker many years ago I can say they don't know what they're missing. After loading the dory on the car and locking her down I took a quick dip, changed into my suit and was ready for the business of the day. Now if I could just somehow work a row into my commute in Sydney each day...