Swansea Channel dredging
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.
JUN 2022Investigation work
Transport for NSW Maritime is working as quickly as possible to complete our investigations and work with all relevant stakeholders to prepare the necessary environmental approvals prior to seeking tenders for the dredging of Swansea Channel.More information
The navigation channel entrance into Lake Macquarie is highly dynamic and may not be passable by all vessels at all times. Skippers are reminded of their responsibility to assess conditions before negotiating any marine channel.
For further information please see the Swansea Channel Navigation Advice on this page.
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 now?
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.
Transport for NSW Maritime is working as quickly as possible to complete our investigations and work with all relevant stakeholders to prepare the necessary environmental approvals prior to seeking tenders for the dredging of Swansea Channel.
The community will have an opportunity to have its say on the project when the Review of Environmental Factors (REF) is expected to go on display in the coming months to inform members of the community of the details of the dredging project.
Tenders will be advertised and a contract awarded with the aim of starting work in the third quarter of this year.
TfNSW is working towards the establishment of a long-term, sustainable dredging program to support boaters’ access to key waterways. This will aim to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enable more consistent and frequent dredging to be undertaken in the future.
What happens next?
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:
- displaying the REF
- completing a “Have Your Say” on the project, to seek community feedback
- advertising to seek tenders
- awarding the contract
- starting of dredging work
- finishing dredging work by November 2022.
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 Maritime Boating Safety Officers and navigation markers are regularly moved to reflect current 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 assess the conditions for their vessel before undertaking passage through Swansea Channel.
Safe navigation through any channel is ultimately the responsibility of the vessel’s master, taking account of a range of factors including the size of their vessel, weather, 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, navigate with caution and if in doubt, avoid the trip entirely.
For more information contact the project team:
Phone: 1800 271 100