The days are longer. The sun is higher. The air is warmer. No sooner did the ACT Government announce that travel to regional NSW was back on the cards than many Canberrans could think of only one thing: the beach.
If it seems like an achingly long time since you’ve hit the sand, you’re not the only one.
But a lot has changed on the coast. Here are just a few things to look out for.
The Bay has a new bridge
The big news – in every sense of the word – is that the new bridge in Batemans Bay is now completely open.
The original vertical lift truss bridge had spanned the Clyde River since 1956, raising twice a day to let the ferry through. But with the amount of traffic increasing over the years, it was creating greater bottlenecks and frustration for motorists and boaters alike.
Even more so when the lifting mechanism jammed several times and had to be coaxed back into action by emergency services.
A new $274 million ribbon of tarmac now sits slightly inland of the original bridge, with two lanes either way and a footpath. You definitely won’t feel like you have to breathe in while crossing the river anymore.
There have been extensive roadworks in the area while the adjoining roads were prepared, and these will continue throughout this summer into early 2023.
The Bay is also about to get a new aquatic, arts and leisure centre
Coming off the new bridge, the first thing you’ll notice will be the sprawling construction site for the Bay Pavilion, a $69 million project promising to bring state-of-the-art aquatic, arts, and leisure facilities to the Bay and wider Eurobodalla Shire.
The centre will feature a variety of indoor pools, an arts and cultural centre, an auditorium with seating for up to 350 people, a gallery and exhibition space, arts workshop spaces and meeting rooms, as well as shared facilities including a foyer, cafe and visitor information services.
The final piece of the puzzle is the installation of the waterslides. The Bay Pavilions opens sometime in the first half of 2022.
The Clyde is missing quite a few trees
About 400 trees have been removed from Clyde Mountain due to concerns the 2019 bushfire had damaged them to the point they could pose a safety risk by falling over or dropping limbs.
The work was originally scheduled to run into December, but with COVID-19 lockdowns in effect over the school holidays, the crews took advantage of the lower traffic levels on the Kings Highway and started early. The job was completed more than eight weeks ahead of schedule.
Stabilisation of the roadside rock faces is ongoing.
Broulee is also missing quite a few trees
A segment of land close to the entrance of Broulee on the corner of Broulee Road and Clarke Street has been cleared of all its trees to make way for a 48-lot development.
The area has been zoned for development since 2004, but when bulldozers moved in on 22 June this year, community members were furious with Eurobodalla Shire Council for lack of prior consultation. At least one protestor entered the site and attempted to put a stop to the work.
Trees were also cleared on another council-owned patch nearby under Rural Fire Service requirements.
You will also notice a lot of trees missing as you head down the coast road past Rosedale, with new developments going ahead at a cracking pace.
George Bass Drive is straighter
George Bass Drive links Batemans Bay to coastal suburbs to the south and on to Moruya Airport. The tight bends, particularly around Lilli Pilli, have a notorious history of traffic accidents, hence why a straighter route is being carved through the hinterland.
The $4.65 million project currently cuts the road, causing detours, but is on track for completion in December.
Two visitor centres are closed forever
The visitor information centres in Batemans Bay and Narooma closed in February after a review found that less than 10 per cent of visitors use them.
Services are now provided online via the Eurobodalla Coast Tourism website.
It’s all a lot greener
The landscape continues to bounce back from the effects of the bushfires.
Over the last 12 months, the Eurobodalla Shire Council has poured almost $1 million worth of environmental programs into healing the landscape’s scars, much of it enabled by government grants and the labours of local volunteers.
The Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden in Mogo was also ravaged by fire and required six months of rebuilding, repair, regrowth before it could open again, only for COVID-19 to hit. The good news is their doors opened again on 13 October.
Have there been other changes to the South Coast since last summer? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.