Free ferry rides for locals and future ferry plans looking bright


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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FREE FERRY: Locals can sign up for a ferry card and cross the rover for free until February. Image: Newsport.

Douglas Shire Council is encouraging residents in its neighbouring local government areas to take advantage of Daintree River free ferry travel, which began on November 1 and runs until February 28, 2019.

The standard fee of $28 is being waived during this period and motorists can apply on line to Douglas Shire Council for a Douglas Card.

“The Douglas Card allows bona fide residents from Mareeba, Tablelands, Cairns, Cassowary and Cook local government areas to take a trip to the Daintree during the low season and discover the fabulous range of activities, accommodation and unique tourism experiences.

“This is a great opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area,” said Mayor Julia Leu.

“The Douglas Card is a tourism promotion in conjunction with Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD) which produces a brochure of offers from participating Daintree businesses to encourage visitation to the Daintree. 

“The card allows free travel on the Daintree Ferry every year, and Douglas Card holders can use their cards for years to come during the same period,” she said.

To obtain a free Douglas Card, applicants need to provide photographic identification and proof of residency with their application to confirm local status. Application forms are available from Council’s website.

Meanwhile, a second ferry, on-line ticketing and dynamic pricing were some of the ideas presented at recent forums (held earlier this month) to discuss the future of the Daintree River Ferry.

The well-attended forums followed Council’s decision in July to endorse a Community Engagement Plan encouraging all stakeholders to provide their input before the tenders are issued.

Douglas Shire Council is planning to issue tenders for a new contract no later than 30 June 2019 with the aim of awarding a contract by 31 December 2019. This would allow 18 months for the successful tenderer to build a new vessel should this form part of their offer.

The current Daintree ferry contract is due to expire on 30 June 2021.

Mayor Julia Leu said there were many ideas following robust discussions.

“Some of the themes were: on-line ticketing, dynamic pricing, a second ferry or quick-fast replacement, fully-functioning priority lanes, an earlier start time, and an ability to reduce afternoon peak north-side waiting,” she said.

Leu said Council will collate the feedback from the sessions which will be posted on line.

“We are about to begin the traffic analysis and we will share the results of that as well,” she said.





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