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Coff’s Harbour: Railway and port

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Tuesday 3 April 1945, The Sydney Morning Herald

Coff’s Harbour Plan

Coff’s Harbour should be converted into a deep sea port and made the terminus of an east-west railway, according to Coff’s Harbour and District Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has issued a statement to show that the two projects are inseparable and essential to the proper development of the north of New South Wales. The complete rail and port scheme is estimated to cost £5 million.

The chamber speaks for what is potentially a complete economic unit comprising eight shires and including the coastal strip from Macksville to Woolgoolga, the Dorrigo, the tablelands, and the western slopes – 40,000 square miles, with a population of 77,000.

Last year the 1,600 square miles of coastal strip produced:-Butter, £479,808; bananas, £300,000; tomatoes, £100,000; beans and peas, £12,000. Since 1912 the unimproved capital value of Dorrigo Shire has doubled. In 1910 there were only 18 timber mills operating in the whole district. To-day there are, 109; yet the resources of the area have scarcely been tapped. Dorrigo plateau alone produces 25 million cubic feet of timber a year. Beyond Dorrigo a vast area is cut off from markets by prohibitive transport costs.


These forests, water power, mineral wealth, and the rich soil of Ebor and Guyra, remain undeveloped, while the great wool industry of New England needs direct rail communication and port storage facilities at Coff’s Harbour.

After a Parliamentary Works Committee had recommended that the best means of communication between the tablelands and the coast were a railway from Coff’s Harbour through Dorrigo to Guyra a bill was passed to authorise work on that project in 1929.

The Chamber of Commerce maintains that this project could be continued as a post-war work.

Dealing with claims of Coff’s Harbour to recognition as a deep-sea port, the chamber points out that when a plan for a port at Coff’s Harbour with a depth of 40ft of water, to cost £439,000, was prepared, the Under- secretary for Public Works, Mr. Hanna, said the smaller scheme proposed actually formed portion of the work necessary for a deep-sea port, although the smaller scheme was considered adequate for many years to come.

£900,000 SPENT

The total tonnage from Coff’s Harbour in 1939 was 64,781 tons. Nearly £900,000 has already been spent on the port.

The Chamber of Commerce advocates completion of the rail connection to Guyra, thence to Inverell and Ashford, with a 25 miles branch line to Billy’s Creek, as the first part of a scheme. The second part provides for a triple basin at Coff’s Harbour, the central basin being the present harbour, deepened to provide anchor age, and equipped with facilities to discharge and load very large vessels. Coastal vessels could be anchored in the northern basin while large ships would lie in the southern basin, which would also protect the central basin from southerlies. All three harbour entrances would lie 1,000ft wide.

Written by macalba

July 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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