Saturday 28th May 2016
The car was due back at lunchtime today so we spent the morning stocking up on heavy groceries and beer before driving out to Coffs Harbour Motorworld to deliver it back to James. He very kindly drove us to a bus stop from where we were able to catch a bus right back to the Jetty. As it was a lovely day and we had not yet visited the actual jetty, we decided to take a stroll over there and walk to the end. Although an imposing structure, we have never seen it used by vessels, only by anglers and swimmers. The signs explained that it has been restored for leisure use to preserve the heritage of the area.
The jetty from jetty beach. Old bollards at the entrance to the jetty.
Looking south across the harbour towards Corambirra Point. Looking east towards Muttonbird Island and the marina.
The jetty was built between 1890-93, originally 90 metres longer than it is today, to allow timber to be loaded onto steamships. Prior to that, the logs had to be floated out through the surf and hauled onto ships out at anchor. Coffs Harbour – originally Korff’s Harbour, named after Captain John Korff who took shelter behind South Coffs Island during a storm in the 1840’s – was somewhat unprotected, and ships had to wait offshore until conditions were calm enough to come in closer. They could not lie alongside the jetty, but had to drop anchors and lie a few feet off, as the swell was such that they would be bashed against it, damaging both themselves and the jetty. This was because the breakwaters had not yet been built, so the only protection was that offered by Muttonbird Island to the north, South Coffs Island to the south and the other smaller islets.
A steamship next to the jetty in its heyday. A pre-breakwater photo with the jetty left, Muttonbird Island right.
The northern breakwater that joins the mainland to Muttonbird Island was built in 1924, and the eastern breakwater out from Corambirra point was built three years later, the channel between South Coffs Island and the mainland having been reclaimed between 1915 and 1927. This formed an enclosed harbour leaving a narrow entrance south of Muttonbird Island. The inner harbour was created by building internal breakwaters in the 1970’s and ‘80’s which protect vessels from the swell that still encroaches into the main harbour.
The marina inside the northern breakwater. The jetty is far left. The southern breakwater and Corambirra Point.
The eastern breakwater, with Korff’s Islet beyond.
These breakwaters have been added to over the years, raised and strengthened, as they take quite a hammering from rough seas and experienced major overtopping in 1954 and 1999, and again recently in 2013. The eastern breakwater was repaired and raised two years ago, and work on the northern one is due sometime this month.
Signs on the northern breakwater explain the work that will be carried out shortly.
Only the inner harbour is considered an all-weather harbour, and is home to the local fishing fleet and leisure boats. It is clear then, why the jetty is no longer used commercially. At the time it was built, steam ships were the fastest form of transport to the Coffs area, but over the years, as rail and road transport developed, the use of steamships died out and the jetty fell into disrepair. It was good to see it restored and in use today for much safer pursuits.