t's been almost two months since monster storm waves smashed into Manly, ripping up cement slabs and stone blocks and tossing them out to sea.
Marine Parade and beautiful Fairy Bower Pool were particularly hard hit, with damage not just to the footpath and pool, but to the adjacent sea wall and cliff face and underlying sewage pipes as well.
Now repair work is almost complete and the path between Fairy Bower and Shelly Beach, closed since the storms hit, is set to reopen this month.
The first job, which started immediately the storm settled, involved work by Sydney Water to repair and secure the three large sewer pipes running under the walkway. This task alone took one month, with the site only given back to the Northern Beaches Council on July 7.
The pipes, which would normally be underground, were put in when a sewerage system was first built for Manly in 1898, as it was cheaper to route the pipes around the coast line and then under North Head to the outfall at Blue Fish Point, than it was to tunnel the whole way from Manly Life Saving Club, as originally planned.
Once the pipes were repaired, the Council could hire cranes to retrieve the concrete slabs and sandstone blocks which ended up in the water. The heritage sea wall was then repaired and the concrete footpath rebuilt, with new timber handrails and posts now ready to be installed. The entire cliff face above the walkway has been inspected by a geotechnical company, with one section needing rock bolting and shot crete work to make it stable. The Catholic Archdiocese, which is the owner of that section, is funding the work which will finish early this month.
Fairy Bower Pool is being cleared of debris thrown in by the storm, a job complicated by the fact that it can only take place at low tide. And the much-loved twin ladies sculpture on the pool edge will be either replaced or repaired, after one of the twins was snapped in half by the force of the waves. The pool is set to reopen by the middle of this month.
Further work is on the agenda too. The concrete bottom of the rock pool has been cracked and uneven for months, probably years, before the storm made things worse. Tenders had already been called to carry out repairs and these will be assessed by the Council. As it is important not to make the pool shallower, work will involve removing the existing cracked floor to a depth of 10cm before replacing it with a new 10cm concrete reinforced slab. This can’t be done cheaply but as the pool bottom had become a trip hazard, it is necessary.
The most dramatic evidence of the storm’s power was the Fairy Bower toilet block, which was demolished, sheared off its footings and washed out to sea. The Council is preparing a design for a similar facility, which is expected to be completed by late next month. It is not known yet when the new facility will be built.
Good For Manly has been impressed by the work undertaken by the new Northern Beaches Council to reinstate one of Manly's favourite walkways, which is expected to be reopened mid August.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.