The Dunalley Canal also known as the Denison Canal was first opened in 1905 by Governor Gerald Strickland who sailed all the way from Hobart on 13 October to officially open the canal.
At the opening of the canal up to 30 boats were waiting to go through. It was worth the wait. So many families moved to the small community to work on the project, it was described as resembling a newly discovered goldfield. Gangs of up to 50 men shovelled soil, clay, gravel and rock into railway wagons, then into punts which dumped the material at sea.
The longer route costs fishermen about an extra $150 in diesel each way. But they believe the community of Dunalley is experiencing greater financial woes. Dunalley suffered in the last few years in the fact that boats can’t call in here now because they can’t get through the canal. And it has a large impact on some of our local businesses, like the canvas maker and things like that.
In a few months this situation could all change because the Tasmanian Government has announced it will dredge this area of the canal before the centenary. The fishing industry believes the Government should dredge the canal regularly arguing it would cut costs, but MAST (Marine and Safety Tasmania) says it won’t be necessary for another 20 years.
This time, the overall project, including all the costs involved, is going to cost the Government about $200,000 to dredge the canal and of that, there’s physically three days dredging which comprises about 25% of the cost. The remainders all the set-up cost. Now you wear those costs whether you dredge once every five years or once every 20 years. This time, the dredging process probably won’t result in Dunalley resembling a newly discovered goldfield, but the community believes it will give them a brighter future.
1905 ‘EAST BAY NECK CANAL. THE OPENING CEREMONY.’, The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), 14 October, p. 6. , viewed 28 Apr 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12322228
Blog post including photos by Geoff Ritchie