Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts

Friday, 2 February 2018

What those cruise industry lobbyists probably don't tell the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight

Once National Party MP for Oxley Melinda Pavey was appointed NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight in January 2017 she met with representatives of international cruise lines and cruise industry lobbyists on at least six occasions before that year ended 1.

In fact the cruise ship industry has been busy lobbying any state ministerthat is seen as even remotely capable of advancing its greedy drive for more harbour access along the New South Wales coast.

I would be greatly surprised if at any of these meetings any mention was made of the fact that cruise ship tourism is often seen as a nuisance to be avoided by those land-based tourists who actually like to holiday near harbours, bays and river estuaries and who freely spend their money there.

So to fill a possible knowledge gap I offer these ministers a few quotes..........

“There are few places in the world with sunset views as spectacular as Santorini, but the tiny island in the Greek Cyclades is reaching breaking point. Almost two million people visited in 2017, 850,000 on cruise ships which drop anchor in its caldera, with passengers staying for a matter of hours rather than days. While those numbers have been capped to 8,000 a day by the island's mayor, with a rising population due to the tourist boom, Santorini is in serious danger of losing its charm.” [CNN Travel, 12 destinations travellers might want to avoid in 2018, 24 January 2018]

"Hi, We are hoping to stay a few days in West End and a few in West Bay and would like to avoid staying in West Bay the days that cruise ships arrive. Does anyone know which days of the week they arrive? Thanks!" [Trip Advisor, 27 January 2018]

“My spouse and I are going to Belize for two weeks next month and would like to make a trip to Roatan. We have been to Belize twice already and love to snorkel so we would love to check out Roatan as it's an easy flight from Belize City. We are concerned however about crowds as we heard Roatan is a cruise ship port. How large is the island? Any recommendations for a place to stay on the island that is far enough away from the cruise ships that we can avoid the crowds and the high prices? Somewhere far enough away that cruise ship passengers wouldnt spent their time going to for just a day but close enough for us to spend a few days? Thank you.” [Trip Advisor, 25 February 2017]

“Cozumel and Grand Cayman can get overrun with passengers from the giant cruise ships that call there. The only way to avoid the cruise crowds is to dive at off-peak times or to go with a dive operator who knows the secret spots.” [Wendy Perrin, 10 March 2017]

If you really want to be on the fjords I’d recommend staying in a village nearby Ålesund, Geiranger, and Trollstigen, but also not too close to any of them. Definitely avoid Geiranger itself, as it’s crammed with hotels and only really offers views of cruise ships and tourist buses. [Heart My Backpack, 11 April 2017]

“For centuries their remote location off the far north of Scotland ensured that they remained an idyllic outpost of tranquillity. Now the Orkney Islands, once pillaged and settled by the Vikings, are struggling to cope with an invasion of cruise-ship passengers. Residents of the archipelago, which has a population of just over 20,000, will be joined by more than 120,000 visitors this summer. The waterborne influx is putting attractions such as Skara Brae, Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic settlement, under strain. Such is the desperation of the island authorities that they are looking at introducing berthing permits and charges in an attempt to ease the congestion. Last year there was an outcry when dozens of German tourists barged their way into a funeral at St Magnus Cathedral…”  [The Sunday Times, 16 May 2017]

i'm happy to report that my husband and i have planned and booked our first visit to key west! we will be there for five days the first week of june, so four weeks from today! i'm super happy to report this, because it is how we are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, and i won the 'argument' over which trip to take. my husband wanted to do a western caribbean cruise, and i didn't (we've cruised before, me more than him). my point was that cruises are crowded and rushed. i sold this as a 'land cruise'--we will be driving down from MIA over the course of two days, stopping in key largo and marathon to really take our time getting there. we are super excited about it. and....then i checked the port schedule. there will be a ship in port all but one of the days of our visit, and on tuesday there are two (and i fear one is a disney ship). we don't have kids. we don't particularly like kids (sorry). and we definitely do not love huge crowds. so i'm looking for tips on how to best approach our time in key west, knowing that it is going to be pretty packed. [Trip Advisor, 9 May 2016]

On the day I planned to visit St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace, I had company from about half a dozen cruise ships. Consequently, St. Mark's Square, the locale of these attractions, was flooded with tourists, way more compared with other days. Plan around these behemoths of the seas. Visit top attractions on days with few cruise ships in port, or get there early. Consult Cruise TT for a calendar of cruise ship arrivals.” [Los Angeles Times, 23 July 2015]

“We will be in Dubrovnik Saturday thru Tuesday (or perhaps Wed) in September. A friend has told us that the cruise ships fill the old town with tourist hordes. Does anyone know if they arrive every day or if they leave by certain time or anything that might help us avoid these crowds? thanks in advance roland” [Rick Steves’ Europe, 4 December 2015]

“Just off the coast of Mexico's Riviera Maya lies the small island of Cozumel, a Caribbean gem of an island. Due to its close proximity to the United States, Cozumel welcomes thousands of visitors each day. Scuba diving is the defining attraction here: with many world-class reefs only minutes away from shore. If you don't dive or snorkel, nor enjoy spending time in or next to the ocean, Cozumel is probably not for you. The tourism industry is developing rapidly here, creating two distinct groups of visitors: those divers staying in the Cozumel Hotels and the people straight from the gigantic cruise ships. Sometimes as many as 11 ships (with plans for more) unload their human cargo onto the island in just a few hours. This means that you could be sharing Cozumel's somewhat limited space, with as many as 6,000 other day-trippers. I've seen many divers and hotel guests become extremely frustrated and annoyed by this cruise ship phenomenon, having to share resources and endure price gouges. So, I'm here to offer you a friendly guide with some handy suggestions and advice for best avoiding the herds.” [Travel Notes, undated]


1. Minister Pavey's 2017 meetings were with Royal Caribbean (28 February & 8 June), Carnival Australia (10 March, 8 June & 8 July), Carnival Global (21 March), Norwegian Cruise Lines (8 June), Cruise Line International Association (8 June & 21 June).

2. Some Berjiklian government ministers who also appear to be on the cruise ship industry's lobbying list are:

Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Minister for Skills, Minister for Small Business, Nationals MP for John Barilaro;
Minister for Tourism and Major Events, and Assistant Minister for Skills, Nationals MP for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall;
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport, Nationals MLC Niall Blair; and
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Nationals MP for Bega Andrew Constance.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

VOICES THE BEREJIKLIAN GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT TO HEAR: comment on NSW Ministers Pavey & Constance's not so brilliant idea to invite cruise ships into the Clarence River Estuary

Northern Rivers voices telling it like it is.......

FacebookNo Mega Port Yamba, 15 November 2017:

Victoria Paine Dear Councillors,

I wish to express my deep concern and OBJECTION to the proposal that the Port of Yamba be designated a cruise ship destination and/ the creation of a cruise ship terminal.

My primary concerns are environmental. The self evident environmental damage cannot be justified by monetary gain.

In addition, I am concerned re the reduction on local amenity and negative impact on the quality of life of the community and on local ground based tourism which relies heavily on the integrity of the natural environment.

I urge you to strongly oppose this damaging proposal.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Victoria Paine



The Daily Examiner, 29 November 2017, p.10:

Yamba port not in ship-shape condition

I would like to thank Valley Watch for keeping the people of the Clarence informed. After visiting their stall at the Yamba River Market this week, I am greatly concerned regarding the lack of public knowledge of the 4200 tonne cruise ship which will be docking in Yamba in October 2018.

Did you know about this cruise ship? I didn’t.

However on September 24, 2017 the NSW Government announced a plan to investigate constructing international cruise terminals in Yamba and Coffs Harbour.

This is part of the government’s launch of the Future Transport 2056 Strategy. Ms Pavey’s office announced: “In October 2018, the Cruise Ship Caledonian Sky plans to stop off at Yamba as part of the Australian Coastal Odyssey.”

There have been a few indications over the years of there being a Port in Yamba; it was even mentioned in the Yamba Survey a couple of years ago. If Yamba’s economy is going to increase by this ship docking in Yamba, think again. There is hardly time for a swim. Please have a look at the itinerary for the holiday makers’ short stay in the Clarence (

The most important question I ask myself is what happens in rough weather? If we think back to the Island Trader, how many times was it forced to stay off shore due to inclement weather?

This cruise liner is eight times heavier than the Island Trader. What guarantee is there that this vessel will not harm the protected Dirrangun Reef? Have the Yaegl people been consulted? Once the reef is damaged, the damage is forever. I wonder if this has been considered or conveniently forgotten.

Yamba Community including the Yaegl people, Clarence Valley Council and the Chamber of Commerce all need to be in consultation before permission is given to allow such a vessel to come into Yamba waters.

The consequences of allowing this vessel into Yamba waters could be catastrophic.

Ilma Hynson, Yamba

The Daily Examiner, 23 November 2017, p.11:

No fortune from hop off, hop on cruise

Sorry to tell you, Ray (Hunt), that the proposed cruise ship visit in October 2018 will not introduce much money or employment to Yamba (Ship Size 21/11).

According to its own itinerary, Caledonian Star will land passengers after breakfast on board before a trip to Iluka Rainforest or YambaMuseum and then back on board for lunch before heading south.

Not many fortunes to be made there!

Gary Whale, Yamba


PE Barclay Tourists come to Yamba because its beaches are natural and so is the river.
Tourism is what keeps Yamba alive.
When we go messing with nature to allow cruise ships in to Yamba we have to calculate to what benefit is it to Yamba if the passengers eat and sleep on the boats and don't spend much locally.
Yamba is unique because of its natural environment and if we take that away what do we have left?
Coffs Harbour is already commercialised and cruise ships would be better to go there.

Greg Clancy The Clarence Estuary will never be a cruise ship port without major damage being done to the estuary as it just isn't suitable as it now stands. Yes I am scared of what damage might be done if the proposal gets legs. I don't have a problem with the current level of boat/ship activity although even with the limited commercial operations of the past we ended up with Fire Ants at the Goodwood Island wharf. There are real bio-security issues as well as ecological issues. The sands and mudflats of the Estuary provide habitat for many species of migratory shorebirds that migrate here from the northern hemisphere. Australia has signed a number of international treaties to protect them and their habitat. Water from the bilge can carry exotic organisms that could ruin local fisheries, both professional and amateur. Do I need to go on?

The Daily Examiner, 28 November 2017, p.9:

Crusing around facts

It is simply not true that “You can already cruise into Yamba” (D.Ex 24.11.2017).

The Google search attributed to Councillor Ellem is clearly dated “9th October 2018”.

I think Yambaites would have noticed a 90 metre long, 15 metre wide cruise ship 
coming into port!

We can argue about the merits of such a visit, but facts are stubborn things.

Gary Whale, Yamba

The Daily Examiner, 5 December 2017, p.9:

Community input

The Berejiklian Government in Sydney tells us that its “Future Transport 2056 Strategy and Plans have been created with input from the community since the program began in 2016. So far, we’ve engaged with over 40,000 people across the State in face-to-face and digital consultations”.

Allegedly towards that end the NSW Dept. of Transport had a “React Future Transport 2056” van in Grafton for the day on November 27.

I hopped on a bus and went to Grafton to visit the van because the “Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy” documents had only two dot points mentioning maritime infrastructure development/ cruise terminal in Coffs Harbour/Yamba and I wanted to find out more, as this draft strategy is scheduled to become a final document in 2018.

I told one of the staff manning this van that I had read in the local newspapers about the van and asked if they could tell me what it was all about.

In response the staff member informed me that the government was going all around the state asking people what they felt they needed when it came to transport – not just for years far into the future but for smaller time frames like 10 years. That they weren’t just looking at what trains and buses were available, but they were also looking at roads, cycle ways and even air travel.

I was then asked if I wanted to give my opinion on what I felt the area needed.

What was strikingly absent from the conversation thus far was any mention of what else was in that draft document which might be thought very relevant to the Clarence Valley – the plan to make the Port of Yamba an official cruise ship destination and possibly build a cruise ship terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

So I introduced that particular topic into the discussion and this is what I found out:

1. There was no information available on the government’s proposal for a cruise ship terminal other than those two brief dot points;
2. The “React Future Transport 2056” van would continue to travel around the state but it was never coming to Yamba;
3. There was no timeline for when investigation of a cruise terminal in the estuary would begin; and
4. The communities of Yamba and Iluka would only be consulted when a site for the cruise terminal was being considered and that this community consultation would probably occur as a part of the Environmental Impact Statement process.

The Berejiklian Government obviously has no intention of opening a face-to-face dialogue with communities living within the Clarence River estuary or at the mouth of the river before plans for the Port of Yamba become set government policy and, will probably avoid any meeting with Yaegl traditional owners for just as long if Ministers Pavey and Constance think they can get away with such a blatant snub.

After all the government has already had discussions with the people it thinks matter – it spoke with representatives of the international cruise ship industry in the first half of last year.

Judith M. Melville, Yamba

Recent voices:

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

"Let them sail on to Coffs Harbour" seems to be a frequent shared sentiment expressed by Lower Clarence residents when told of the NSW Berejiklian Government's plans for a cruise ship destination on the Far North Coast

On 21 November 2017 Clarence Valley Council's ordinary monthly meeting considered the issue of giving in principle support for the NSW Government’s plan to designate the Port of Yamba a cruise ship destination and possibly build an international cruise ship terminal within the Clarence River estuary.

The motions and debate which occurred during consideration of Item 14.126/17 were illuminating.

It began at approx.1:50 pm with Clr. Baker immediately jumping in with a motion which was possibly intended to short arm any anti-cruise ship sentiment, but as it was not the first listed it fell to another to get that first word in.

Clr. Clancy’s motion which would exclude council support for a cruise ship terminal (see below) was then read and seconded by Clr. Novak.

Clr. Williamson immediately foreshadowed a motion amending Clr. Clancy’s motion. This amendment excluded dot point one, ie. “Is supportive of infrastructure strategies, initiatives and improvements which promote and well-being of local communities and businesses but specifically exclude the option of the development of a “cruise terminal” for Yamba due to adverse practical, cultural, environmental and social impacts.” The amendment was seconded by Clr. Kingsley.

With a slight rewording by Clr. Baker this eventually became the very truncated resolution adopted by Council (see below), which threw consideration of environmentally sustainable economic development, sustainable growth, the wellbeing of existing businesses and local communities to the wind.

Along the way.......

Clr. Williamson put in his “two bob’s worth” in favour of a broad submission to government and after almost twelve years in local government suprisingly went on to admit to having “zero clue” about any possible practical, cultural, environmental and social impacts an international cruise ship terminal might have, but at the same time insisting he “hadn’t seen any” – presumably because no government report had come his way yet – and that there could be “very strong positives” for supporting the cruise ship industry while supplying fellow councillors with no facts to back this position.

Clr. Clancy observed that the amendment “leaves the door wide open for a cruise port” and attempted to read into the record a letter from a former manager of Goodwood Island Wharf (see text of letter below). Cr. Williamson spoke up to block this.

Clr. Clancy listed local government’s environmental responsibilities under Australian legislation and international treaty. The risk to commercial and recreational fishing. He also canvassed the increased risk of marine pests and the negative effects of dredging for cruise ship access and berthing, including fish and crab disease brought about by a disturbed river bed and raised sediment levels in the water. 

Clancy addressed the genuine community concern with regard to the Yaegl peoples' cultural interests. He told fellow councillors that "Clr. Lysaught said no-one's suggesting dredging. Well I'm sorry, if you're going to have a cruise ship terminal you would have to dredge and you would have to dredge a lot" and “we need to listen to the people of the valley and oppose any suggestion of a [cruise] port which won’t bring any financial value to the valley”.

At one point Clr. Clancy also commented on the tone of the debate and thought it "sad that the only arguments that Clr. Baker's got are based on trying to denigrate local people...I'm lucky because I've got thick skin, I'm used to it, but some of the people out there who are  genuinely concerned about a [cruise] port in Yamba really have good reasons".

Richie Williamson’s glove puppet and seemingly part-time participant in local government Clr. Lysaught gave his opinion - mocking any suggestion that dredging would be needed or could have negative effects and stating he felt assured that all relevant legislation would be obeyed in any future development.

Clr. Ellem gave his take on the Berejiklian Government’s plan for the Port of Yamba; “Well I don’t know who dreams up this stuff, Sydney-based bureaucrats in concert with multinational cruise ship companies……..passengers spend very little money onshore unless they are in  Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney. This is a state government-driven initiative by a government which is ploughing money into Sydney and turning it into grid lock. I think people in Yamba that I speak to wonder what this is all about. Is it throwing out a kite flying project to the people up there to see what kind of response they’d get?  ….I won’t link it to the Mega Port but it’s a similar thing, it causes a lot of concern and angst in the community….if you go onto the website of the draft strategy you punch in “cruise terminals”, “Yamba” nothing comes up – plenty of opportunity for feedback but very scant information on the actual proposal itself. But overseas in Britain and Europe you can call… to book your passage [with] Nobel Caledonia for an Australian Coastal Odyssey, 22 nights from 11,000 pounds….the Caledonian Deck Superior for sole use that’s 15,500 pounds sterling per passenger….their itinerary takes you from Cairns you know down to Melbourne and on or about the morning of October 24 2018 you’ll be landing on Day 16 …in Yamba. “Over breakfast we arrive at the mouth of the Clarence River and the popular holiday resort town of Yamba famed for its spectacular beaches and local seafood. ‘ So we will be retracing the steps of the “explorer Mathew Flinders who visited Yamba in 1799” and we might a look at the Lighthouse no cost and we might go into “the Yamba Historical Museum” gold coin donation or we can duck over to the “Iluka Nature Reserve” no cost and be back on the boat for lunch. Because they trap all of your money, these multinational cruise companies. But that’s what’s going to happen. We’ve had politicians walking along – photo opportunities – and this is the scheduled visitation to Yamba. With no community consultation whatsoever, no feasibility study of whether it is practical or not…..I’ve spoken to retailers in Yamba, they already say they are having a bumper couple of years with the road works that are going on, the bridge works and the amount of tourists coming here by road…. I just think this is a state government overlaying a cookie cutter approach to sort of international, elite tourism and it is quite inappropriate for a small sea port like Yamba but might be appropriate in a place like Eden which has and deep harbour or Coffs which doesn’t have the difficulties of crossing the bar and the lower drafts ….our staff has specifically put this out so this has to be knocked down…let them sail on to Coffs Harbour…..”

Clr Novak described the cruise ship proposal as “a thought bubble” which first came to her attention when earlier this year the NSW Deputy Premier Barilaro announced cruise ships for Yamba and pointed out that the proposal “didn’t really have any social license". She went on to say that no-one "had done any community consult at all around having the bigger ships through here” and that it was incorrect to use the term “further consultation” as she couldn’t recall there being any all consultation at all. Clr. Novak stressed "it’s really important that we actually go to our community and ask them what they want, what they want to see for the future" and, if there is a business case to eventually have these ships entering the port, then council needs to have all adverse practical, environmental, and cultural information before it in order for councillors to make an informed decision.

Clr. Kingsley demonstrated the art of straddling a fence when he urged; "Let's not get lost in all of this because I think it's a bit broader than just cruise ships and I too have concerns about the environmental and in particular the cultural impacts of any potential cruise ship operations.." and then went on to vote for the final motion leaving the door open for cruise ships in the Clarence estuary to be in the final version of the NSW Government sea transport strategy. 

Lastly,  Clr. Simmons admitted receiving “a dozen or so emails” with but all one expressing concern and asked councillors not to support the officer’s recommendation and “that there had been no consultation with the community up ‘til now”. In spite of these admissions he blithely voted to open the door wide to a sea transport plan for Yamba that has no boundaries or limitations due to its deliberate vagueness.

I cannot finish this post without pointing out Clr. Baker’s expressed desire to fill those “irrational”, “hysterical, screeching” Lower Clarence residents and two of his fellow councillors with “a boatload of calm down pills”, maybe even more than one boatload. His continuing efforts to establish a full-blown conspiracy theory was worthy of a Donald Trump. While his assertions of a phantom cruise ship sailing into the Clarence River and parking there for the last two years and an indefinable cruise terminal already in existance were both masterpieces of absurdity. 

“We are already a cruise terminal, ships that are capable already come in……we should not simply fall over because there is fifteen or twenty people who have listened to Clr. Clancy or whoever instructs him to carry these messages to say; stop everything, do not allow anything to even be considered…We don’t have to say to the state government that they’ve gotta be environmentally sustainable – that’s all covered, forget that. It might be great soapbox stuff but for this council it is a non-event….we should just leave this....There has been a cruise ship in the Clarence Valley for two years, parked variously at Palmers Island and at Harwood*”. Clr. Baker was also in a mood “to calm the horses” and decried community concerns saying “That people who go out at this stage on some imaginative opposition are misleading people, they are trying to make themselves relevant…”

*Not so coincidentally Palmers Island have a waterfront site owned by a shipbuilder and Harwood has a commercial slipway where unladened yachts, small day cruise ships, island ferries, barges and small cargo ships have from time to time been laid up for repair, repaint or refit (see images below taken at Harwood Slipway). Boats such as these are of course not what is coming into Port of Yamba next year on its maiden voyage into the Clarence – it will be a 4,200 gross tonnage, 90.6m long,15.3m wide, five decks high, foreign-owned ocean-going cruise ship with up to 114 passengers. A ship which has already done irreparable damage to a pristine reef earlier this year.

You can listen to much of what Clancy, Ellem, Baker, Novak and others said here at

What became apparent during the debate was that only Greg Clancy, Peter Ellem and Debrah Novak had given some thought to the issues, listened to Lower Clarence residents and voted against opening the door to the international cruise industry. These three councillors recognised that any council decision made on 21 November would be based on a complete absence of planning information and no prior consultation. 

What has become obvious over the last few weeks is that very few people trust the Berejiklian Government's intentions with regard to the Port of Yamba and, this appears to include some of those councillors who actually voted on 21 November to invite the state government to continue to move forward with its plans. 

What has also has come to light after the Future Transport 2058 communications team visited Grafton for the day on 27 November 2017 is that the Berejiklian Government intends to fully exercise its power over New South Wales waterways and, expects to proceed with the creation of a cruise ship terminal no matter what position local government, local communities and traditional owners might hold.

It appears that to a distant Liberal-Nationals government down in Sydney the people living within the Clarence River estuary matter far less than the commercial goals of multinational cruise lines.

Perhaps Premier Berejiklian should think back on what went down - politically and on the ground - when her predecessor supported Metgasco Limited's push to create gas fields across the Northern Rivers region. Then cast her mind a few years futher back to what happened when the federal government supported a proposal to dam and divert water from the Clarence River system.

See any gas fields or a huge new dam and pipeline, Premier? 



That Council tender a submission to the Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy which includes the following points:

Clarence Valley Council:
* is supportive of infrastructure strategies, initiatives and improvements which promote sustainable economic and environmental development, and support the growth and well-being of local communities and businesses. In particular, the development of a “cruise terminal” for Yamba should be of an appropriate scale pertaining to the boutique port, the capacity of local physical, economic and social infrastructure, and sensitive to the local Aboriginal cultural beliefs.

* requests further consultation and engagement with Council and the broader community for those projects within the Future Transport 2056 Plan which are identified for investigation.

THE FINAL WORDING OF CR. CLANCY’S MOTION – seconded by Cr. Novak & supported by Cr. Ellem

That Council tender a submission to the Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy which includes the following points:

Clarence Valley Council:

*       Is supportive of infrastructure strategies, initiatives and improvements which promote environmentally sustainable economic development, and support sustainable growth and well-being of local communities and businesses but specifically exclude the option of the development of a “cruise terminal” for Yamba due to adverse practical, cultural, environmental and social impacts.
*      Requests further consultation and engagement with Council and the broader community for those projects within the Future Transport 2056 Plan which are identified for investigation.

THE FINAL WORDING OF CR. BAKERS’S MOTION* – seconded by Cr. Williamson

That Council tender a submission to the Draft Future Transport 2056 Strategy saying that:
Clarence Valley Council requests further consultation and engagement with Council and the broader community for those projects within the Future Transport 2056 Plan which are identified for investigation.

* This motion became the adopted Council resolution


“I spent 22 years in the shipping industry based at the port of Yamba running Yamba Shipping with Captain Ron King.
We spent our time attracting whatever cargo and pleasure vessels we could in order try and expand and promote the port. We invariably had to cut our
ideas down to size due to the vagaries of dealing with a river port which
was constantly silting up and governments both state and federal which did
not understand the needs of the commercial shipping industry.
One of the avenues we tried was to attract small and specialist cruise
vessels here particularly during the nineties and early part of this
At all times the companies that we approached required the following:
- Safe berth - the only berth is Goodwood island which is owned by the RMS
and controlled by the Yamba Port Authority. It is possible that a ship could
anchor in the river but there are restrictions. This would have to be
checked with the Port personnel.
- Customs facilities - officers would have to come from Coffs Harbour to
clear people in if it was allowed - that is not guaranteed. Obviously if a
ship has been cleared inward prior to arriving at the port that would
assist. Maybe you would only deal with small Australian vessels.
- Minimum draft of 4 metres is likely to be required. Those vessels would be
small and it may not be economic for them to bring small numbers of
passengers to Yamba. As I remember the maximum allowable draft would 3 to 3.5 metres plus the height of tide.
- What would the people do here? - what is there right on our doorstep that
would attract people to come? Most cruises have essential ingredients - big
cities; amazing countryside;  challenging adventure sports etc etc.
Yes this is a beautiful area but you need to be able to transport the
passengers very quickly and efficiently to different attractions.
It is unrealistic to think you can bring in larger vessels which would
provide the economies of scale. They would be too big to enter the port both in length, breadth and draft.
- we endeavoured to get the rock reef removed at one time during the late
nineties in order to get vessels of 6 metres draft plus into the port but
after some investigation and discussion with the politicians of the time
from Mayor Joy Matthews to Steve Cansdell and federal politicians we decided we had to back off because of the damage it would cause to the relationship with the indigenous people of the Clarence Valley.
-dredging would undoubtedly be required just to remove siltation at the bar
and the other notorious areas such as Goodwood Island reach and the
environmental considerations that have to be gone through before that can
happen are enormous. It is also an extremely expensive operation.
If you tried to anchor vessels off shore and bring passengers in by barge
you would need very calm conditions which are rare.
My belief is that it is a waste of time to pursue this idea. Hope this

Photograph supplied
Photograph found at Harwood Marine

Sunday, 19 November 2017

FACT CHECK: Size comparison - cargo vessel Island Trader and cruise ship Caledonian Sky

The debate concerning the Sydney-driven proposal to make the Port of Yamba a cruise ship destination continues.

I have noticed there has been some comment on social media that the small cruise ships Yamba could expect to have ‘visit’ would be same size or smaller than the Island Trader which used Yamba as its home port for around 17 years.

The phrase “small cruise ship” is being taken literally and the conclusion invited is that these cruise ships are so small there is nothing to be concerned about.

To assist with a more accurate size comparison I have laid out the dimensions of the cargo vessel MV Island Trader and the passenger ship MV Caledonian Sky below.

The comparison indicates that if the proposal goes ahead the average small cruise ship entering the Clarence River estuary is likely to be at least twice the size of the Island Trader.

# This is MV Island Trader

The Island Trader was built in 1981, has 485 gross tonnage, dead weight of 242t*, is 38.8m long, 9m wide and has a maximum draft of 2.8m.

This cargo vessel is owned by Lord Howe Island Sea Freight Pty Ltd and since 2009 has called Port Macquarie its home port.

# This is the small cruise ship MV Caledonian Sky due to enter Port of Yamba on or about 24 October 2018

The Caledonian Sky was built in 1991, has 4,200 gross tonnage, dead weight of 645t*, is 90.6m long, 15.3m wide and has a maximum draft of 4.25m.

This passenger ship is reportedly owned by Noble Caledonia Limited and is currently sailing under the flag of Bahamas.

* Dead Weight is the maximum weight of the cargo, crew, passengers, stores and bunkers that it can safely carry when loaded so that it settles in the water to the Plimsoll line.

Friday, 17 November 2017

It is being suggested to Lower Clarence communities that inviting the cruise ship industry into the Clarence River estuary will bring financial gain to their towns - but will it?

At this month’s ordinary monthly meeting Clarence Valley Council will be considering whether or not to give in principle support to the NSW Government’s proposal to designate the Port of Yamba as a cruise ship destination and possibly build a cruise ship terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

The Berejiklian Government appears to be presenting this proposal as a way to increase the annual regional income of the Clarence Valley. But is it and will it?

Nowhere have I found any mention of the business model employed by the global cruise ship industry. An industry which seeks to create demand through the judicious use of political donations and paid lobbyists.

According to  Professor Ross Klein, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland; “Standing up to a cruise line can sometimes be difficult, especially given the industry’s generous contributions to political campaigns, their active lobbying efforts, and their degree of influence with mass media” [Klein, R. (2013) The Cruise Industry’s Business Model: Implications for Ports]

As an example, between 1997-2007 Cruise Line International Association spent US$10 million on lobbying the U.S Congress

In the first instance the business model used by cruise ship operators seeks to have passengers spend most of their money on-board the ship.

So many of the traditional services supplied on a cruise are no longer covered by the upfront cost of the fare and attract an additional charge per use.

Any land-based tours or shopping trips are organised by the cruise operator and not infrequently the cost is not absorbed by the cruise line so a fee for participation is paid by passengers directly to this shipping company.

The fee paid by the cruise operator to a land-based tour business contracted to supply the actual service usually ranges from as little as 10% up to an est. 50% of the fee paid by passengers.

Even when passengers leave the ship to wander around coastal zone towns you can bet that the cruise ship operator will have approached local businesses requesting a fee to include these businesses on a list of recommended shops/cafes/hotels/clubs - because that is part of the business model.

From state government a cruise line expects and often receives reduced harbour fees & charges and from state and local government it expects upgrades in infrastructure worth literally millions of dollars, without giving a firm guarantee that it will continue to use a particular port as a genuine destination rather than as a short "technical call".

What is worse is that once the cruise industry becomes established in a small port there is evidence to suggest that the regular incursion of up to 350 passengers at a time into coastal towns sees a decrease in the number of land-based tourists, who now see these towns as crowded and impersonal - no longer offering an intimate holiday experience.

It is these land-based tourists who fill Yamba and Iluka’s camping grounds, motels, hotels and holiday units and, are more likely to patronise the full range of dining/entertainment/sporting experiences on offer. So to see a significant proportion of them replaced by cruise passengers over time is not likely to compensate for the risk of economic loss during peak holiday periods in the Lower Clarence.

The first small cruise ship is due in Yamba on or about 24 October 2018 and this is it’s published itinerary: arrive during breakfast, disembark to visit “Flinders Well, Yamba Lighthouse, and the Yamba Historical Museum” or “alternatively walk in the nearby Iluka Nature Reserve”, return to ship for lunch and depart in the afternoon.

Now I'm no economist but even I know that this itinerary doesn’t exactly ring the till in a big way for businesses in Yamba or Iluka.

This cruise ship, which is a repeat offender when it comes to reef and coral damage, is probably coming in on the high tide but as it expects to leave in the afternoon it is not going out with maximum water depth under its keel  -  which should ring some alarm bells.

Through the prism of this industry business model the Port of Yamba will not be seen as a boutique destination but merely as one more excuse to extend the number of nights passengers spend on a floating hotel being milked by the hotelier for as much money as possible before they finally leave the cruise at a major city port.

What Australian lobbyists for the cruise industry are not telling the regional ports they are currently attempting to smoodge is that when it comes to Australian east coast cruise destinations Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne accounted for 65% of total passenger onshore visit days and 90% of the home port passenger onshore visit days. [Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)2016 & 2017]

Which means most of the spending money cruise ship passengers have in their wallets is more likely to be spent at large ports.

One cannot escape the suspicion that the health of the Clarence River estuary, existing coastal tourism revenue and safety of the Native Title reef Dirrangun are being placed at risk by this proposal, for what is essentially a dream of financial return for Lower Clarence communities rather than a solid reality.

Interested readers can find more information in the presentations included in the report of an international symposium held in 2013 which can be found at For an idea of how many of these not-so-small cruise ships come into a regional harbour once berthing facilities are established see