Sydneysiders will be forced to sweat through summer without one of the harbour city’s most iconic beaches.
In a devastating blow to swimmers, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has confirmed that Shark Beach will remain closed until next year.
It’s only been four months since the hotspot in the upscale suburb of Vaucluse was shut for an extensive refurbishment to the stone seawall adjacent to Nielsen Park.
But after the wettest start to a year on record, work has been so extensively delayed that the expected December completion date has been pushed back into 2023.
As part of renovation works, the 160-metre barrier, which was built in the 1930s, will be replaced after it was damaged by storms in 2016.
While the NPWS says its schedule had allowed for a number of days of bad weather, this year’s rainfall had exceeded forecasts.
“Continued poor weather has forced delays to a number of projects across the Sydney region, including the Nielsen Park seawall replacement, new whale watching platform at Cape Solander and North Head upgrade by several months,” a NPSW spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
Considered by many as a Sydney institution, the continued closure of Shark Beach is a devastating outcome for Woollahra Mayor Susan Wynne but she admits it is unavoidable.
“We understand bad weather has delayed NPWS upgrades to the seawall at one of our most popular swimming locations," she told Yahoo News Australia.
"Nielsen Park is my summer swim spot. Like many locals, we will miss our summer swims here, but we know the upgrade was necessary and all the rain and bad weather has caused delays to many infrastructure projects, including ours.
"The good news is everyone can enjoy Camp Cove, Watsons Bay Baths and Murray Rose Pool and Redleaf Beach, as well as the neighbouring beaches, while we wait for the work to be completed."
As part of the planned works, the new seawall will be reinforced to give greater protection to Nielsen Park.
The project will also include a wheelchair-accessible ramp and resurfaced promenade.
Sydney closes in on rain record
More than 1947 millimetres of rain has already fallen on Sydney so far this year, just 247 millimetres off the city’s wettest year on record.
It’s been 72 years since 2194 millimetres fell on Sydney in 1950.
While the forecast is looking relatively dry with a few light showers over the next few weeks, the Bureau of Meteorology warns another coastal low could easily tip us over.
And with higher than normal rainfall expected for later this year, it is looking very likely that the city will eclipse its seven-decade-old record.
“There is a 70 to 80 per cent chance of receiving higher rainfall over August, September and October,” a spokesperson for the Bureau of Meteorology told Yahoo News Australia.
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