Swansea Channel dredging

Swansea Channel
Swansea Channel

Transport for NSW Maritime is funding a major dredging campaign of Swansea Channel in 2022 to improve navigation channels and provide access to Lake Macquarie.


Swansea Channel connects Lake Macquarie to the Pacific Ocean and Is the only entrance to the popular boating area in the Hunter region. Lake Macquarie is twice the size of Sydney Harbour and the largest saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere.

The history of Swansea Channel indicates that this is not a natural continually open navigational channel into Lake Macquarie. Since 1970 Swansea Channel has been dredged 20 times.

Interventions such as the construction of the Lake Macquarie Entrance Breakwaters in the late 1800s were built to allow larger vessels in for industry purposes.

Due to the dynamic nature of Swansea Channel there will be continual need for interventions such as dredging to maintain the channel.

While there is good access to the lake for the majority of users with boats on trailers that can launch from one of the many boat ramps around the Shoreline. Maintaining access to the ocean through the narrow Swansea Channel is of major importance to recreational boating in the region, particularly cruising yacht clubs.

What are we doing?

The proposed dredging intends to deliver a channel from Pelican to Marks Point that is 3.5 metres below Australian Height Datum (AHD) and 60 metres wide allowing vessels drawing a maximum of 2.5 metres draft to transit the channel.

Like all major construction projects. Dredging projects must go through legislated planning approvals before proceeding.

We are working as quickly as possible to complete the project planning approvals including developing the Review of Environmental Factors (REF). We expect that following the completion of this process and the tender we will be in a position to dredge in the first half of 2022.

We are also developing a strategy to secure funding for a long-term statewide dredging program to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enable more consistent and frequent dredging to be undertaken in the future.

What's happening now?

We are continuing with planning and project development including carrying out the environmental investigations which will inform the next stages of the project.

Our next steps are:

  • completing the REF
  • completing a “Have Your Say” on the project, to seek community feedback
  • Advertising to seek tenders
  • Awarding the contract

Swansea Channel Current Navigation Advice

Swansea Channel is a popular area of Lake Macquarie and can become very congested during busy periods, especially during the summer months. With the current depth restriction in the channel vessels are required to transition in a zig zag pattern which, coupled with congestion of vessels, can make navigation challenging.

The channel conditions are monitored by Boating Safety Officers. Navigation markers are regularly moved to reflect the conditions. So please be aware of this and deep drafted vessels should follow the marked channel.

The navigation channel may not be passable by all vessels at all times. The channel entrance into Lake Macquarie is highly dynamic and it is incumbent upon vessel masters to determine the conditions before undertaking passage through Swansea Channel.

Safe navigation through any channel is ultimately the responsibility of the vessel’s master taking into account a range of factors including the size of their vessel, tides, water depths and the speed at which they travel.

Conditions and depths in Swansea Channel change regularly. Deep drafted vessels of more than one metre are advised to carefully plan any trips through Swansea Channel and navigate with caution and if in doubt, avoid the trip entirely.

Project documents


Contact us

For more information contact the project team:

Phone: 1800 271 100

Email: SwanseaChannelDredging@transport.nsw.gov.au

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