Council seeks ideas and interest for Daintree River Ferry
Douglas Shire Council wants to draw a strong market response for the next contract of the Daintree River Ferry crossing by inviting expressions of interest to gauge market appetite and solicit ideas for managing the last cable ferry crossing in tropical Australia.
Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu believes the market may hold the key to improving the river crossing.
She said inviting expressions of interest was a critical exercise to complete before the formal tender process.
“We want to understand the full scope of potential out there and see what the market may be able to offer to improve this unique ferry service,” she said.
“Our officers will be undertaking early market engagement with a real mix of potential suppliers from not only across Australia, but across the globe.”
Located about 50 kilometres north of Port Douglas, the ferry is a renowned tourism icon that carries about 100,000 vehicles across the majestic Daintree River every year.
The current Daintree River Ferry Services contract started in 2006 and is due to expire on 30 June 2021.
It provides the only sealed road access to the northern section of the Daintree National Park and to Cape Tribulation and north.
The ferry was recently closed for two days when the Daintree River suffered its worst flood in 118 years.
“The cable ferry operates in a really complex environment characterized by the logistical challenges of working in remote far north Queensland and environmental hurdles that come with operating in a World Heritage-listed area.
“We want the market to help us solve some of the challenges we face with the current ferry service and come up with cutting-edge ideas for this iconic piece of Australian tourism infrastructure,” said Cr Leu.
The ferry carries a maximum of 27 vehicles and takes about five minutes to cross, however, during the peak tourist season there are often delays crossing the ferry.
A commercial contractor on behalf of the Douglas Shire Council operates the ferry and a fee is charged for the crossing.
To ensure a seamless transition from the current contract to the new contract, sufficient time has to be allowed for potential service providers to submit their tender and to ensure the vessel is ready to commence operations 1 July 2021.
Council is planning to be in a position to invite tenders by no later than 30 June 2019 and to award the contract by no later than 31 December 2019.
This process is geared to allow the successful tenderer to implement all necessary arrangements to effect a seamless transition to the new contract.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Douglas Shire to enjoy the stunning back drop of Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage-listed rainforest to the west and north and the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to the east.
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