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HomeLatest NewsManly aquarium flagged for demo as boardwalk revival bid gains ground

Manly aquarium flagged for demo as boardwalk revival bid gains ground

The former Sea Life Aquarium building in Manly Cove has been earmarked for demolition in initial plans now out for public comment. Touted as a Manly West Esplanade revival, the building will make way for open space, outdoor dining and a ‘recreational edge’, if plans proceed.  Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham tells Manly Observer why she will also be gunning for a new boardwalk and harbour pool in Manly Cove.

Manly Cove is about to undergo a multi-million-dollar facelift change to its waterfront area and wharf facilities. The primary works will be centred on two separate projects: Upgrade of Wharf 3 and Demolition of the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary.

An artists impression of the “revived” west esplanade

Transport for NSW (TfNSW), which owns both sites, are in the process of seeking public feedback on the plans, which include a widening of the West Esplanade boardwalk around Manly Pavilion and a complete renovation of Wharf 3 (the dilapidated wharf out the front of Manly Wharf Bar), with significantly improved disabled access. The wharf has long had a major access issue for those using wheelchairs and prams, and there is currently no shelter.

New plans for Wharf 3

Residents have until 28 January 2022 to provide their feedback, just visit https://roads-waterways.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/manly-wharf-3-upgrade/index.html

If fully approved, the project, funded as part of the NSW Government’s $205m maritime stimulus program, is scheduled to commence in 2023 and will be completed in approximately eight months.

Then what?

 The recently re-elected Deputy Mayor Bingham has long campaigned for rebuilding the boardwalk from Wharf 1 to the Manly Pavilion, replacing, with amendments, the original that was washed away in May 1974 during a powerful storm.

The plan Is not without its detractors, but Cr Bingham said it is at least worth exploring in earnest.  Cr Bingham explained to Manly Observer why her proposal to construct the new boardwalk and upgrade the harbour pool would be an integral addition to the whole Manly Cove enhancement scheme.

Candy Bingham.

“In 2012 we had an environmental architect, Maurice Patten, look at the area at West Esplanade with a view to redesigning the recreation of the harbour pool and boardwalk.

“That was then used by the Northern Beaches Council to get a $100,000 grant from the NSW Govt and commission a community consultation. It wasn’t just about the harbour pool, but about fixing up the whole area, including landscaping and acknowledging the Aboriginal history and heritage of the area.”

How is that progressing?

“The landscaping has been approved and will be scheduled this year, but we were waiting on the State Government to make a decision about what it was going to do with the old aquarium building, because that was going to affect any proposal for a new boardwalk and harbour pool.

“Now the State Government has declared they will demolish the old aquarium, I believe it’s a good opportunity for Council to come back and do the next stage, which is a proper environmental feasibility study into whether or not a boardwalk and pool can be reinstated in that space.”

The current harbour pool consists of shark netting strung between the wooden stumps that once held up the original boardwalk.

An historic view of west esplanade. Photo: Good for Manly

Cr Bingham emphasised how attractive a harbour pool would have been during this 2021-22 summer, when the ocean-side beaches have been closed due to rough seas and inclement weather, caused by the La Niña effect.

La Niña, which rolls in intermittently (typically every five-seven years), brings more rainy days and increased risks of extreme weather events like cyclones and flooding.

How does Cr Bingham envisage the new harbour pool?

“There’s space for a 100-metre lap pool. The end closest to the wharf would allow access for dinghies, the return of penguins and access for kayakers… The net there would be like a trampoline net [suspended in the water], so kayakers could get over it… The boardwalk would go across the whole space from the wharf to Federation Point, which is exactly what it did before…”

“It would be great for tourism,” she said. “When I put this proposal together, I spoke to the Department of Primary Industries, because there’s a fairly important sea grass area there, and they were of the opinion that the pool would protect the sea grass. At the moment, boats can come right in and rip up the sea grass in the process.”

The destruction of sea grass from boats in the Cabbage Tree Bay precinct on the other side of Manly is already a hot topic in the community. Boats are allowed into the bay but must not anchor on the grass. Many still do.

How much might a new harbour pool and boardwalk add to the Manly Cove upgrade costs?

“It would be a separate project,” Cr Bingham asserted. “It would involve another grant. The estimate is $12 – $15 million, which, frankly, is not a lot of money when you consider what it would bring to Manly’s business economy.”




The opportunity to comment on TfNSW proposed upgrade to Manly Cove is closing soon, with public feedback open until 5pm on 28 January.

Transport for NSW proposal for Manly Cove


Community feedback email:


Cr Candy Bingham’s harbour pool plan


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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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