Wangetti Trail: Tenders called for next stage as construction progresses
Tourism Minister, Kate Jones, stopped by the Mowbray Bridge today to inspect construction on the first stage of the Wangetti Trail while also announcing the release of a $9 million tender for the next stage of work.
Works are progressing on the 65m long pedestrian bridge across the Mowbray River, the first construction activities on the 94km walking and mountain biking trail from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.
The State Government has committed $41.4 million to the project, including the bridge, while the Federal Government will chip in $8 million in funding.
Ms Jones said this significant investment has only been possible due to the partnership between the Traditional Owners of the land, the State Government, the Federal Government, and Douglas Shire Council.
“Not only are we inspecting construction on the bridge here, but we are announcing a $9 million package of works for stage two of the Wangetti Trail. Stage two includes the design works and trail construction between Palm Cove and Wangetti. This is another major milestone in this huge opportunity for North Queensland,” Ms Jones said.
“We’re now looking for suitably-qualified trail construction companies to design and then build this trail to accommodate mountain bike users and hikers, camping areas and low-level bridges and crossings.”
“This means jobs during construction with 20 people working on site right now but also jobs into the long term.
“From day one we have said very clearly that we want to create long term sustainable jobs for the Traditional Owners of the area here and we will continue to work with them in partnership to deliver what I think will be an absolute icon for Queensland.”
The project will create up to 150 jobs and pump more than $300 million into the local economy once it’s operational.
Ms Jones said the work on the bridge, by North Queensland Civil Contractors, was under the watchful eye of the Yirrganydji/Nyakali and KubirriWarra Yalanji Cultural Heritage Monitors.
“The bridge is part of the trail’s $5.7 million stage one. It is pleasing that fabrication and monitoring works and jobs are local.”
Ms Jones also had a pointed message to Tasmania regarding its claim to be Australia’s eco-tourism capital.
“The Wangetti Trail will rival anything that Tasmania has when it comes to ecotourism.
“We think that the Wangettit trail will rival anything in Australia.”
Ms Jones added that when the trail is completed, which is expected to be in 2022, it will bring tens of thousands of more tourists to the region.
She also acknowledged the struggles the Far Northern tourism industry is currently facing saying the government will need to work hard with the industry to rebuild tourism in this community.
“We understand this region has done it extremely tough, one of the toughest in the whole country.
“Our job very clearly is about getting more tourists back to the region as soon as possible.
“We are already in deep discussions with Cairns Airport and a number of airlines to see if we can increase capacity back here into Cairns and the Tropical North.
“We know more than any other region that having flights back into the airport here is critical if we are going to see tourism recover and that is my number one focus right now.”
And when asked about the border reopening, Ms Jones said we have to wait until National Cabinet on Friday for an update.
“The increasing cases of community transmission in Melbourne will be discussed at the National Cabinet on Friday between the Prime Minister and the Premier,” she said.
Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, joined Ms Jones at the bridge today and said the entire trail was a “real game-changer for the region”.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience, there is going to be some eco-lodges along the way, and there is going to be some camping opportunities. But what is going to make this very very special is the engagement we have with the Traditional Owners,” he said.
“This is something you can do on bike or on foot, so it gives an opportunity to improve your fitness but at the same time you can be accompanied by Indigenous guides that can show you what is happening along the way and explain the culture and stories that go with it.
“This will be a must-do destination for anybody involved in trekking or anybody that is involved in mountain biking.”
“It puts us into a whole other market,” he said.
See video of the full press conference below:
Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said it’s extremely important to have projects like this to entice new people to come to the region.
“This is a fantastic asset not only for tourists but also for the locals.”
Mayor Kerr said where the pedestrian bridge is being built was in the past a popular fishing deck for locals, so to be able to have that back once construction is complete will be a great asset.
“It’s a great spot for young kids to be able to ride their bikes from Port Douglas to this bridge and safely fish.
"It is fantastic to see the old Mowbray River Bridge piers remain to tell the story of the past as part of this game-changing project, something Council is very proud to be a part of," Mayor Kerr said.
Construction on the new Mowbray River crossing is anticipated to be completed by August 2020.
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