There’s big things happening in the Port of Newcastle. While it may be renowned as the world’s largest coal export port, that’s far from the only action happening on its wharves. Just last month it took delivery of the largest wind turbine blades ever shipped to Australia, each one measuring a mammoth 59.5m in length. Now that’s big. Image: A concept drawing of a cruise terminal. The design will befurther developed during the detailed design phase. Fromthe ship, passengers enjoy sweeping views of the NewcastleForeshore, the city skyline and Stockton Beach.
The shipment was the first of eight that will arrive between October 2016 and May 2017, with the wind turbines bound for the Goldwind White Rock Wind Farm, located 20km west of Glen Innes in the New England Tablelands.
Port of Newcastle CEO Geoff Crowe said the shipment demonstrated the harbour facility’s capability to import large and heavy cargoes for developments happening across the state.
“The Port of Newcastle will handle 70 wind turbines for Goldwind’s White Rock Project and is well placed to handle more large cargo imports to support wind farm, property, rail and road developments happening around the state,” he said.
“The Port’s shipping channel is currently only 50 percent utilised, and we have plenty of large parcels of portside land for cargo storage and preassembly, which reduces the number of times cargo is handled, generating cost savings for cargo owners.
“Previous project cargo imports through the Port of Newcastle include a tunnel boring machine for the Sydney northwest rail link, locomotives, rail and passenger wagons, mining machinery, large tanks and boilers, transformers and prefabricated structures.”
But the arrival of the wind turbines – as impressive as they were – is far from the biggest news coming out of the Port in recent months.
The State Government announced at the end of September it would commit $12.7 million towards the construction of a permanent multi-purpose cruise terminal facility within the Port’s Carrington Precinct.
The project, worth $13.5 million in total, will strengthen Newcastle’s position as an international cruise destination, secure the long-term future of cruise shipping in the Hunter and help cement a truly diversified future for the Port.
It will include the construction of a 3000 square metre purpose-built terminal, dedicated car park, enhanced wharf infrastructure and improved accessibility for ship provisioning.
The funding also builds on an earlier State and Federal Government commitment of $800,000 for the upgrade of mooring bollards at the Channel Berth, which will enable the port to host larger, heavier ships carrying up to 3500 passengers. This upgrade will commence later this year and is due to be completed in mid-2017.
Construction of the cruise terminal is expected to commence next year and will be completed in 2018.
The growth of cruise ships during the past decade have meant the industry outgrew Newcastle’s previous berthing point at Throsby Wharf. Navigational constraints also apply to the area between Dyke Point and Honeysuckle, which means vessels over 265m in length are unable to reach Throsby.
Many of the cruise ships that visit the port exceed this length, including some of the most popular and impressive vessels to have visited the city this year including the Celebrity Solstice (317 metres), Queen Elizabeth (294 metres) and Radiance of the Seas (293 metres).
The Channel Berth at Carrington, which is suitable for berthing vessels up to 320m in length, was first used as an alternate berth for cruise ships in 2010, with 66 liners from a variety of cruising companies welcomed into the harbour since that time.
Mr. Crowe said the cruise shipping industry currently injected around $11 million into the Hunter’s economy each year – a figure that is likely to grow once the new terminal is complete.
The development also had the potential to transform Newcastle from a simple stop-over destination into a “home port.”
“The cruise terminal will enable the Port to attract more cruise ships... Purpose-built facilities will provide a professional welcome for passengers and will position Newcastle as a home port where ships can start and finish their destination in Newcastle,” Mr Crowe said.
“Homeporting has the potential to deliver additional economic value to the region via more cruise ships, more interstate and international visitors and an opportunity for local businesses to supply goods and services for the provisioning of ships. Additionally, it complements the growing capacity of Newcastle Airport.”
The cruise season in Newcastle generally runs from late spring to late autumn. Eleven ships containing nearly 18,000 passengers docked at Channel Berth during 2015/2016, with five of those making their maiden visits to the region.
While the full season schedule had not been officially released at the time intouch Magazine went to print, cruise ships already listed to arrive early next year according to the Port of Newcastle website include the boutique liner Silver Whisper on February 4, the luxurious Celebrity Solstice on March 14 and the ever-popular Radiance of the Seas on April 11. For more information, visit www.portofnewcastle.com.au