Commercial shipping in Sydney Harbour in October will be overshadowed, but not disrupted, by a fleet of tall ships commemorating 200 years of maritime history and the opening of the Barangaroo foreshore redevelopment.
“It will be business as usual,” Brendan Elliott, community engagement manager, Port Authority NSW, told IHS Maritime. “Commercial shipping rolls on around other activities. We just schedule arrivals around events. Pilots continue to do their thing.”
The month-long celebration marks the final transformation of the Darling Harbour wharves and commercial shipping centre. The foreshore has been opened up as public parkland, a major tourist destination, and arts and community centre.
The harbour’s gentrification has seen most of the wharves removed and container ships replaced by cruise liners.
This week 11 cruise ships were scheduled for Sydney Harbour, with only one bulk cargo vessel, Pioneer from Mackay, and two product tankers, Nave Luminosity and Jupiter Express, due in port.
The only boxes remaining on the old docklands are brightly coloured shipping containers serving as mini galleries for a multimedia art installation, called Arrivals and Departures, showcasing the harbour’s history.
Some general cargo vessels still berth inside the harbour, trading dry bulk (sugar, salt, cement, and gypsum) and bulk liquids (refined oil and vegetable oil) out of Glebe Island and White Bay berths.
Tanker bunkering and fuel import berths are available further up harbour at Gore Cove on the North Shore for 45,000-tonne medium-range tankers.
How much longer the harbour will host merchant shipping, however, is in question.
“Urban Growth, a state government agency, is looking at redevelopment of the wharves,” Elliott told IHS Maritime. “Certainly they have their eyes on some of our property. We’d like to retain as many of the few remaining working berths as long as we can. While arrivals are spaced out, the reality is we still move around 1.5 million tonnes of dry bulk trade across the wharves annually.”
Not listed on the port authority arrivals and departures list are three tall ships. James Craig is the only surviving sailing vessel from Sydney’s golden age as a bustling commercial port, while replicas HM Bark Endeavour and Governor Bligh mark the European discovery of Australia.