A BUMPER harvest on Australia’s east coast is expected to drive a flurry of activity in the Port of Geelong, with a significant increase in the number of export grain vessels transiting the channels within the port.
According to the Victorian Regional Channels Authority (VRCA), the surge in grain exports will make for a busy time for the port, and the VRCA is reminding local boaters about the importance of safety and staying well clear of the big ships as they navigate their way in and out of the Port of Geelong.
“At the moment, the government is forecasting an almost record harvest nationally, with an increase in production of 76 per cent in 2020-21 to 51.5 million tonnes,” VRCA chief executive Peter Mannion said.
“Looking at the Victorian output, the projected bumper crop will almost match the record high of 9.5 million tonnes back in 2016-17.
“That year, about 2.3 million tonnes of grain was exported from the Port of Geelong and we’re expecting a very similar amount this year, which will make for a very busy port.”
In the bumper harvest of 2016-17, as many as 62 bulk export grain vessels visited the Port of Geelong. Mr Mannion said this season was shaping up to be very similar, with port traffic expected to jump significantly.
“We could almost see triple the most recent number of grain export ships heading to Geelong this season,” he said.
These grain vessels can be up to 225 metres long and carry almost 60,000 tonnes of grain, so they are significantly large vessels traversing our channels.
“Our key priority within the port is safety. Our ‘Keep Clear of Big Ships’ campaign has been running successfully for many years and so, when facing a major increase in the number of large vessels expected to visit the Port of Geelong, it’s timely and appropriate for us to remind recreational boat users and water sports enthusiasts that they will need to be more vigilant than ever.
“These big ships can’t get out of your way in the channel, so it’s best to keep clear of them.
“Exports have already started and we’re expecting to see a steady stream of these big ships heading our way.”
A GrainCorp spokesperson said the near-record harvest on the east coast of Australia would inevitably lead into a big export season across many ports.
“With the season shaping up to be similar to the ’16/’17 harvest, our ports are booked out well into 2021 and we’re looking forward to welcoming plenty of vessels to ship Australian grain around the world.”