Mega ships can’t squeeze under the Sydney Harbour Bridge but they’ll fit into Port Kembla with ease, Wollongong cruise campaigners say.
A recent push to allow more mega cruise liners to berth in the NSW capital, coupled with the formation of a new industry steering committee, has propelled Destination Wollongong to – again – push Port Kembla’s case as a go-to arrival point.
The development of Garden Island – a piece of Sydney real estate on the ocean side of the bridge that’s home to a Navy base – has been flagged by former NSW Liberal leader and senior naval reserve officer Peter Collins.
Mr Collins has suggested the idea as a way to ease Sydney’s cruise ship crisis, amid fears large ships won’t be able to fit under the Harbour Bridge and dock at the White Bay Cruise Terminal.
“We are talking about dozens of cruise ships in excess of 100,000 tonnes ... they're bigger than the biggest warships in the world,” Mr Collins told AAP.
“They simply don't fit under the bridge.”
Mr Collins heads a new NSW government cruise industry reference group, which has been given three months to find a solution to Sydney’s capacity crisis.
The government was exploring all options, with a shared facility at Garden Island “the most obvious one”, he said.
Destination Wollongong general manager Mark Sleigh welcomed the formation of the reference group as a “sensible and positive thing” for the industry.
Mr Sleigh said while Garden Island’s location was an “attractive option” for the cruise industry, he understood it was not a viable option while it was being used by the Navy.
“The role that Wollongong potentially plays is that it’s sitting in the background,” he said.
“It’s facilitating in the short term and then people kind of have a look at it medium to long-term and go … ‘maybe that’s a sensible solution’.
“You’re dealing with large [cruise] companies … who have an attachment to Sydney Harbour, and that’s understandable.
“It’s working through the priorities of each of the cruise lines to come up with an end result that suits everyone’s goals.”
Mr Sleigh described Port Kembla, which saw visits from four cruise ships last season and has another three scheduled this year, as an “attractive alternative” to Sydney.
“We’re located only 90km from Sydney International Airport. We have the [physical and nautical] infrastructure that they can come and turn cruise ships around here tomorrow,” he said.
NSW Maritime Minister Melinda Pavey has previously said tough talks were needed regarding the sharing of facilities in order to deliver additional berth capacity in Sydney.
The reference group is due to report to the government in September.
- with AAP