Why this photo of Aussie beach has sparked anger

The stunning spot is a favourite among locals, but many are furious it will be closed to the public for two summers in a row.

A photo of a picturesque harbour beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has reignited fury among locals, who are upset over extended construction delays that will see the spot closed for a second successive summer.

Shark Beach, located within Nielsen Park in Vaucluse, is positioned on Sydney Harbour and is touted as one of the safest beaches in the area for swimming due to its large shark net, and protection from the ocean swells.

But following damage to the seawall at the beach from severe weather in previous years, the state’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) closed the beach in March 2022 to demolish and replace the seawall.

A temporary break wall at Shark Beach shields heavy machinery from the sea water as construction continues on replacing the seawall.
The current state of construction at Shark Beach in Nielsen Park. Source: Facebook
Another angle of Shark Beach shows construction underway on the sand.
Locals are disappointed the picturesque spot will be closed for two summers. Source: Facebook

While the project had initially planned to take nine months, a “contract dispute” with the original contractor saw the $6,713,993 contract dumped.

A new contractor has now been found, but instead of opening for the summer of 2022, the seawall will not be complete until at least the end of summer 2024.

NSW’s Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) told Yahoo News Australia additional landscaping and works to the promenade won't be finished until April 2024, with the project now expected to cost around $11 million upon completion.

Left: Nielsen Park before the seawall was demolished. Right: Heavy waves caused ongoing damage to the original structure.
Left: Nielsen Park before the seawall was demolished. Right: Heavy waves caused ongoing damage to the original structure. Source: DPE

'A total joke': Locals fume over extended delays

A photo of the current construction on Shark Beach was shared to a local Facebook group, showing a temporary break wall along the shoreline and heavy machinery on the sand.

“Another summer coming up with Nielsen Park closed to the public! What an absolute and total joke! For this alone the council needs to be thrown out at next year’s elections!” one furious local wrote.

“What a bloody mess! Outrageous bungling,” another added.

“Disgraceful management again,” another wrote. “Just such a loss for everyone who loves Nielsen, especially all the locals who have been coming here for years.”

Photos show damage to the previous seawall, including cracking in the concrete and missing portions of concrete.
The decision was made to replace the seawall in a 'once-in-a-lifetime' $11m project. Source: DPE

Many complained that the process was “taking too long” and moving at a “glacial pace”.

A DPE spokesperson told Yahoo News it was aware of public dissatisfaction around the delays.

“The Department does sympathise with residents around the loss of amenity this coming summer and wants to see the works completed and visitors able to use the beach as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said.

“The contractor’s construction program forecasts completion of the seawall’s concrete bleachers and removal of the protective sheet piles no earlier than February, 2024. This is subject to adverse weather conditions and any unknown latent site conditions, with full site completion including promenade works and landscaping forecast for April 2024.

“The site will reopen for swimming as soon as it is safe to allow visitors to access the beach. Netted swimming is available at nearby Redleaf Beach.”

A concept plan shows the future design for Nielsen Park, including concrete steps, a lawn and many trees.
A concept plan shows the future design for Nielsen Park. Source: DPE

The department is also promising “a range of improvements” to the seawall, compared to the old one which had been in place for almost 100 years.

The new seawall will be "more capable of withstanding adverse weather conditions and sea level rise" while accessibility to the beach will be improved, the department's website states.

"This once-in-a-lifetime project will conserve the site's sensitive natural, cultural and historic heritage significance while improving the structure to meet visitor and operational needs."

A dedicated project website aims to keep residents and visitors informed about the progress of the seawall rebuild.

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