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'Fed-up' locals fuming over fresh delay to iconic Aussie beach

Locals are furious Shark Beach at Nielsen Park will closed for even longer.

Sydney swimmers are facing a new wave of delays at one of the harbour’s most popular beaches with the NSW government announcing a further setback to the reconstruction of a new stone seawall.

It’s been almost two years since Shark Beach at Nielsen Park in the upscale suburb of Vaucluse was shut for the replacement of the 160-metre barrier, which had been built in the 1930s, after it was significantly damaged by weather in recent years.

The project, which began in March 2022, was initially meant to take nine months. But after the wettest start to a year on record, construction was delayed so badly that the December completion date was pushed back to 2023. Then there was a dispute with the original contractor over the $6,713,993 contract and a new contractor had to be brought in — pushing back the now $11 million works to April 2024.

The Shark Beach stone seawall in Sydney under construction.
It's been almost two years since Shark Beach was closed for the reconstruction of the damaged stone seawall. Source: Facebook

New delay in Nielsen Park project

But now the NSW government has revealed a further two-month delay due to a building blunder. Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said “the project was delayed when defects were found in recently constructed steel-reinforced concrete piles”.

From June to October last year, the contractor constructed 217 steel-reinforced concrete piles across the foreshore to hold a capping beam and bleachers in place and support the seawall. Unfortunately, during the quality assurance inspections, it was discovered that some of the piles had insufficient concrete coverage and were therefore considered “defective”.

While the spokesperson said “the necessary remediation work has been conducted at the cost of the contractor”, it’s also cost time. “The contractor’s program now indicates completion of the bleachers in May, with overall completion in June 2024, excluding any inclement weather or latent site conditions,” they added.

Outraged Sydney swimmers

“The local community is fed up with the delays to the seawall reconstruction at Nielsen Park,” Allegra Spender, Federal Member for Wentworth, told Yahoo News Australia, saying Shark Beach was one of her family’s favourite places for a dip.

“These setbacks are so disappointing and have led to another lost summer at one of our most beautiful public swimming spots. People are extremely disappointed, and I share their frustration.”

Spender said she will be writing to the minister “to make the voices of the Wentworth community heard and press for further action to ensure that Nielsen Park is opened to the public as soon as possible.

Desperate need for netted beaches after Sydney shark attack

Due to its large shark net and protection from ocean swells, Shark Beach is touted as one of the safest beaches in the area for swimming, made all the more vital after the recent shark attack in nearby Elizabeth Bay in which a 29-year-old woman was mauled on Monday night.

“The recent shark attack highlights the need for community access to as many netted harbour beaches as possible, there are so few as it is!” one person wrote on Instagram. “After the recent shark attack in the harbour, [I am] wanting this beach with the nets back even more than ever!!” another commented.

While others called for immediate ministerial intervention. “This continues to be an appalling mismanagement of such an important Sydney asset and needs to be thoroughly examined so it never happens again.”

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