SCOTT LEVI, PRESENTER: Bob Brooks is well-known to our listeners as our sometimes football commentator, sometimes jazz commentator. He does a lot of good stuff in the community. He is also the secretary of the Chain Valley Bay Progress Association and they have for years been working on a real problem and it looks like, finally, the solution has been found to the tune, I think, of $7 million but we will find out about the money in just a moment. Bob joins us on the line from Chain Valley Bay. Good morning.
BOB BROOKS, SECRETARY OF CHAIN VALLEY BAY PROGRESS ASSOCIATION: Good morning indeed, what a beautiful day in Chain Valley Bay.
LEVI: (laughter) that’s great Bob. I was there with you a few years back when you got together with the locals at Mannering Park and all around there to solve a real problem, a safety problem for the school kids and a health issue too when it comes to a shared pathway that stopped. Tells us about the problem, the bridge you have to build I guess to get over this problem.
BROOKS: Well, between us and Mannering Park there is the Vales Point power station and obviously they have an outlet canal and we have to bridge that canal to be able to put together a shared pathway between the two areas and that, of course, is a big challenge because it’s going to be darned expensive. It also has to be covered because we don’t want anybody leaping off of it into the canal. They could drown.
LEVI: Yeah, and it’s not the canal with the hot water, is it? It’s one that sort of services the power station in the day when they were building it brought up, you showed me when I was there…
BROOKS: No no, it’s the outlet canal.
LEVI: Oh it is? Right.
BROOKS: It’s warm water.
LEVI: But they can also bring up big barges and things to put in new turbines and so on. You showed me some photos when we were there a few years ago. But it’s quite an expanse of water, isn’t it? It’s a pretty big engineering project you’re asking for.
BROOKS: Yes, it is and the pathway on the Chain Valley Bay side – we will call it that side, that’ll do – is already formed. The one on the Mannering Park side is just a rough track and I mean, very rough. So there’s a fair amount of work to be done there but that would continue the wonderful shared pathway around Mannering Park, which is absolutely beautiful. I mean, we’re talking about the biggest and most beautiful salt lake in Australia, Lake Macquarie.
LEVI: And what about that northern side, it seems if you look on Google Earth, there seems to be a huge expanse of pristine bush and foreshore. Is that because of mining leases or something?
BROOKS: It was mining leases but of course, the power station comes right up to the edge but the people at the power station have given us their blessing as it were and said “please go ahead”.
LEVI: Enter the local member, Pat Conroy. Good morning.
PAT CONROY MP: Good morning Scott, good morning Bob.
BROOKS: G’day Pat, how are you going?
LEVI: This is what it’s all about, I guess, isn’t it for local members? There’s a problem, the community do the work and you back them up. What have you been able to do?
CONROY: Well, the October Federal Budget for the new government was able to deliver $7 million to help build the shared pathway between Chain Valley Bay and Mannering Park and I want to pay tribute to Bob Brooks and the Chain Valley Bay Progress Association and the Mannering Park Precinct Committee because they’ve been so active and vocal on this project for so long including running a petition that had thousands of signatures. I’ve rarely seen a project that had such strong community support so it’s a real joy as the local Federal Member to get behind the project. To fight and deliver that $7 million for the project.
BROOKS: I’d like to say to Pat, thank you very much. We really appreciate it. When it came in, I’ve got to tell you, I opened a bottle of champagne.
LEVI: That’s great. Well I’m sure he got you down there. I went down there with the camera and did a video and an online story about breaching that gulch, you know that bridge too far so to speak. But it’s also a really important safety thing, I believe, fellows because the kids are walking up on really busy Rutleys Rd and this will give them a very safe, beautiful, alternative route on their bikes or with their backpacks on to get to school. Is that right?
BROOKS: That’s absolutely right, to Carters Road but the most important thing from my perspective is the longer term because this area could become, with the amount of already constructed shared pathways, a wonderful place for people with mobility scooters to come on holiday and have a lot of – round Lake Munmorah, the edge of Lake Macquarie, all the way round and get to the shopping centre and I visualise in the future it will become a Mecca for people in mobility scooters.
CONROY: And not just mobility scooters, Bob’s right, cyclists and pedestrians as well. We’ve got some of the most beautiful lakes, not just in Australia, but in the world and it should be the right of everyone to enjoy them and I just look at other community facilities further north where people can cycle around big chunks of lakes and it’s just glorious.
LEVI: The Member for Swansea, Mr Conroy, we spoke to her. She was saying that she would like to see that pathway connect to Swansea and it goes all the way virtually to Valentine and Speers Point, you know, there’s such an opportunity to start connecting those pathways around the Lake. This is a bit of a missing link this beautiful area, isn’t it?
CONROY: It absolutely is. That’s the long-term vision and Rotary used to run a beautiful charity event called Loop the Lake -
LEVI: Alan Beard, my old mate. I used to sail with Alan he put that on, yeah.
CONROY: No, it’s beautiful. My brother is a keen cyclist, he’s done it. It’s 120kms but a lot of it is on very fast, dangerous roads and it’s a jewel in the environment of Australia and I think the long-term vision is there as you and Bob have said. We just need to do it sequentially, make sure we’ve got the money to do it and maintain it but I think this will make the Chain Valley Bay-Mannering Park stretch really attractive and really improve the quality of life for so many residents there.
BROOKS: Absolutely right.
LEVI: Great work, well done. Bob?
BROOKS: May I please pay tribute to Andrew Whitbourne who’s been working on this with me now for more than 10 years now. He’s at Mannering Park and I’d like to thank him very much. We haven’t yet gotten round to sharing a bottle between us but I’m sure we will.
LEVI: (laughter) I’m sure you will. Pat Conroy, Bob Brooks from Chain Valley Bay, thanks for joining us on the program.
CONROY: Thanks Scott, have a good morning.
BROOKS: Thank you very much.