Repairs have started on the iconic and historic Horseshoe Bay jetty at Port Elliot, with hopes it will be reopened to the public by the end of March after being closed for more than a year.

The jetty, which was built in 1852, has been closed for more than 12 months after it was damaged in a storm in February 2023 with a repair bill of $350,000.

The chief executive officer of the Alexandrina Council Nigel Morris said it was one of South Australia’s favourite jetties and many tourists had been disappointed to find the jetty still closed over the summer.

Cape Jervis locals staged a protest in September 2023 against the decision to remove their jetty without plans for a replacement.(ABC South East SA)

“It’s a very iconic jetty and one that appears in Instagram all the time,” he said.

The damage to the structure was initially thought to be minimal, but an inspection had showed significant structural issues.

The Horseshoe Bay jetty is one of 35 jetties owned by the South Australian government, but leased to the local council, leaving the Alexandrina Council responsible for repairs and maintenance.

Works to repair and reopen the jetty were initially delayed while the council negotiated with the state government to secure funding.

Wiktor Boulden, Tom Thorne and Kadeem Welling from Queensland based Aus Coast Diving have been installing new pylons with the help of crane driver Darren Ancell. Also pictured: Nigel Morris.(ABC South East SA: Caroline Horn)

The state government has agreed to contribute up to $174,000 towards the jetty’s $350,000 repair bill, the money for which will come from the statewide $20 million jetties renewal fund.

The fund was announced in last year’s state budget.

The remaining $175,000 needed to fix the 172-year-old jetty will be paid for by the local community, Alexandrina Council chief executive Nigel Morris said, calling it a “significant cost”.

“People have been waiting for this to finally be done. It is very important to the community, as are all jetties in South Australia, not just in Horseshoe Bay,” he said.

Mr Morris said many of his fellow council chief executives were pushing for funding to repair and maintain the jetties in their areas, adding that any works that involved water-based infrastructure came at a significant cost.

Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

“We need help from the state government to get these assets back into a place where they can be enjoyed by community and visitors alike,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) said that in addition to the funding for the Port Elliot jetty the state government had allocated $380,000 to the recent refurbishment of the Port Lincoln jetty.

Other program grants were being finalised and would soon be made public, the spokesperson added.

A mass community protest at the proposed closure of the Tumby Bay jetty took place in February.(Supplied: Kate Smith)

‘Vacuum of information’

The President of the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA SA) Dean Johnson said while it was good that the Port Elliot jetty was being fixed the communities of Tumby Bay and Port Germein needed to know if their jetties would also be repaired. 

“We’re acting in a vacuum of information,” he said.

The Tumby Bay jetty has an estimated repair cost of $4 million has been closed since October 2022, with the community rallying last month to protest the lack of action.

The estimated repair bill for the Port Germein jetty, which was once the second-longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, measuring 1,680 metres in length, was estimated to be $15 to $20 million.

Mr Johnson said only half of the announced $20 million in the SA government renewal fund would be spent on jetties leased by councils, with the remainder going towards those maintained by the state government.

Cape Jervis and Second Valley jetties

The Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) has announced that the jetty at Cape Jervis will close permanently from 6am on Tuesday, April 2.

The hole in the causeway leading to the Second Valley jetty.(ABC South East SA: Caroline Horn)

It will then be demolished as part of the upgrade of the port facilities, which will accommodate larger ferries between the town and Kangaroo Island.

The master plan for the area is yet to be finalised but DIT has put forward the option of allowing fishing from the southern breakwater and adding some infrastructure to accommodate recreational fishers.

Work to repair a large hole in the side of the stone causeway that leads to the jetty at nearby Second Valley is expected to be completed by mid-April.

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