A $5-MILLION infrastructure upgrade planned for the Port of Esperance is set to give the port’s pilot and lines boats a new home.

The new small boat facility would replace the ageing Taylor Street Jetty, a Southern Ports-owned community asset which has been partially closed since 2019.

The $5 million in funding, announced by WA ports minister David Michael on Friday (24 May), is part of the state government’s $14.9 million investment in new infrastructure at the port, outlined in the recent WA budget.

The jetty would be replaced with a proposed 70-metre pontoon, with a 50-metre wing to moor Southern Ports’ service boats (two pilot boats and two lines boats). The remaining 20 metres would be used by the public.

Southern Ports CEO Keith Wilks said the existing jetty is coming to the end of its life as the port authority looks at ways to accommodate new and modern tugs at the port.

“With that we need a new place to locate our pilot boats and our lines boats,” Mr Wilks said.

“The coming together of these two requirements means we’ve been able to be quite innovative in the way we think about … the Taylor Street Jetty, to accommodate both reasons for building new infrastructure.

“So, we will be able to build a wharf for our pilot and lines boats, and at the same time accommodate the tourist activity that we have in and around Esperance, and also the cruise lines with their tendering into the port, and still have it open for public access like the existing Taylor Street Jetty is now.”

Mr Michael said the larger $14.9 million investment in critical port infrastructure would sustain the smooth running of the port.

“Ports have long been drivers for regional prosperity and this is no exception,” he said.

“I commend Southern Ports on its unique proposal to leverage an operational need for a community benefit.”

The WA government has noted port vessels and the section of the jetty that accommodates them will not be accessible to the public, but the public berth area will be open to recreational and tourism vessels and the Esperance community.

A new breakwater spur is also proposed to protect the facility during storm events and enable 24/7 operability.

Detailed design is underway with the new jetty anticipated to be complete in 2026-27.

The current Taylor Street Jetty is expected to be demolished in less than a year.