Broome Boating Facility
Improved boating facilities are required to address safety and access issues in Broome and these improvements have been requested by the Broome Community over many years.
There are significant challenges associated with small vessel access to the waters off Broome and to date finding a solution that addresses local challenges, requirements and expectations has proved difficult.
Broome’s extreme tidal range creates rapidly changing conditions where strong currents, waves, strong winds and soft sand can become serious hazards in a short space of time.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why has this location been chosen?
There have been many studies, consultation, investigations and design plans prepared for a new boating facility for Broome, at many locations, over many years.
These have ranged from small boat harbours to simple boat ramp improvements.
Broome is a complex and difficult location to design maritime facilities and a significant number of factors have contributed to the most recent design option located at Entrance Point. The development of this option at Entrance Point represents a significant safety and access enhancement to the existing boating launching activity at this site.
Key influencing factors:
- A need to locate the facility close to deep water so that the extreme tidal range does not excessively limit the functionality, while avoiding dredging. There are good water depths close to shore at Entrance Point.
- A strong desire to minimise impacts to the environment and culturally sensitive areas, including impacts to the marine and land environment. The site at Entrance Point and within the Port’s operational area has been extensively assessed.
- A need for an appropriate amount of land for car and trailer parking to accommodate busy periods. The existing parking area at Entrance Point can provide a significant amount of this capacity.
- An ability to work with and/or address challenges created by tides, winds, waves and currents. Extensive computer modelling and testing has been conducted on this site and this continuing towards the achievement of a final design.
- Strong local support for this location.
What studies and investigations have been completed to date?
The project has placed a high value on understanding, working with and finding solutions around matters of local concern. These include environmental issues and areas of local cultural and heritage concern, while ensuring the facility design works well within the dynamic marine environment.
Extensive work with the local Yawuru community to map and investigate areas of cultural, heritage and environmental sensitivities was completed in December 2019. This has helped inform the current concept. Mapping of areas of Broome sandstone was also undertaken to determine where areas of dinosaur footprints and trackways may be present.
The next phase of the project will see further environmental fieldwork undertaken and the progression of computer modelling to better inform and define the marine structures size, shape and cost.
What is the proposed configuration of the ramps and jetties at the facility?
The current design proposes a four-lane boat ramp with up to two floating jetties and adjacent parking. The configuration is designed to reduce congestion and make allowance for future growth.
The incorporation of jetties on boat ramps improves safety and reduces delays where more than one boat at a time can be queued to arrive and depart. The jetty can also be used to safely hold vessels, particularly while the towing vehicle is being parked or returned to the ramp.
The parking capacity is designed to meet the criteria as set down within the published Australian Standards for the design of these facilities.
What is the purpose of the offshore breakwater and why is it detached from the shore?
Detailed investigations into the wind, waves, sand movement and currents that can be expected in and around the proposed facility have identified that sheltering of the ramp will be required under some conditions to ensure the facility can be used safely. Guidelines around these design conditions are provided through published Australian Standards and these have been applied to the design work to date.
Using a combination of extensive data collection at the site and computer modelling of various design options, a screening structure is necessary to reduce wave heights at the ramp, addressing the requirements of the Australian Standard. In addition, the computer modelling has identified that detaching the breakwater works well with the tidal currents and potential sand movements at the site.
Will the facility be able to be used at all stage of the tide?
The present design locates the boat ramp toe at about 0.5 metres above the Chart Datum for Broome. The term Chart Datum is generally associated with the definition of the lowest water level likely to occur in that location. As Broome has tides that range up to approximately 10 metres above chart datum, and extremely low tides (+0.5m or lower are infrequent and only occur for short periods of time), the percentage availability of the ramp will be very high.
Will the facility include boat moorings or pens?
No. The current design is more compact than previous designs that involved the development of a boat harbour. With more than 90% of boats in Broome being trailer-based and with the area of greatest demand and risk relating to trailer boat operations, the facility design is strongly focussed on getting boats in and out of the water more safely and facilitating safer passenger transfer.
The provision of boat pens in Broome’s extreme tidal range would likely involve the creation of a marina with a lock, which is less suited to trailer boat operations.
Will the existing ramps at Entrance Point be available during construction of the new facility?
It is likely that the existing ramps at Entrance Point will need to be closed during the development of the new boating facility due to their proximity to the construction activity. The details and timeframes are yet to be worked out and these will be clearly communicated ahead of any works proceeding.
What will happen to the two existing ramps at Entrance Point once the new facility is built?
The northern ramp will be replaced by the new facility and be de-commissioned. The southern ramp is more exposed and is at times hazardous; it is expected to become redundant.
How long will the construction of the new facility take?
This detail has yet to be worked out and will be determined during the detailed design phase. A period of 12 months or more should be anticipated.
How much will the new facility cost?
The cost estimate will be determined during the detailed design phase of the project in the course of 2020. Previous proposals for similar facilities in Broome have been estimated to cost $35-$50 million.
When will construction commence?
There are a number of pre-requisites to construction being able to commence. These include finalising the design in detail, establishing a robust cost estimate, securing all necessary approvals including environmental approvals, securing funding and then procuring suitable contractors and resources to complete the works. Works are unlikely to commence before the end of 2020.
How much parking will be available at the facility?
Parking capacity is being designed around meeting Australian Standards for these types of facilities. Parking will include a mix of both boat trailer parking bays and single vehicle parking bays. It is important that capacity is available to deal with busy periods and the current design includes capacity for about 160 trailer parking bays.
What is the maximum size vessel that can use the facility?
The facility has predominantly been designed around use by trailer boats. Vessels in this category are predominantly in the 5 to 8 metres range, noting vessels up to about 10 metres are sometimes trailered.
There will also be the opportunity for larger visiting vessels to utilise the jetties for passenger transfer subject to vessel length, draft and state of the tide. Investigations are currently contemplating an upper limit for visiting vessels up to about 20 metres.
What materials will be used to construct the facility?
The sheltering structures, including the breakwater arms on the boat ramp and the offshore (detached breakwater), are likely to be constructed from rock while the ramp itself will be formed using concrete panels. The detailed design phase of the project will also consider alternative construction materials where improved performance, aesthetics or functionally can be achieved.
What facilities and amenities will be included at the facility?
The facility will include landscaping incorporating public facilities and amenities such as restrooms and shade shelters. While more details will be developed in the next phase of the design work, the project team would welcome community and stakeholder suggestions. There are excellent opportunities for additional amenities, local artwork and interpretative themes.