Balder R dredging ship

Cairns’ Trinity Inlet is set to undergo 12 weeks of dredging works to deepen the inlet and make way for large vessels, like cruise ships and superyachts, as part of the $127 million Shipping Development.

Assistant Treasurer, Glenn Butcher, said the 111m-long, German-built dredging ship Balder R began its task in late June 2019 to open up the inlet for large cruise ships after a successful stint at dredging sand for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

“The Cairns Shipping Development is the key to unlocking a whole new tourism and jobs market for the Far North,” Mr Butcher said.

“Already we’re seeing this project create 800 direct and indirect jobs during construction, and by 2031 it’ll mean more than 2700 jobs for the region.”

The vessel will remove soft clays from the channel, which will then be delivered to a facility 3km offshore and pumped along an 8km pipeline to a dedicated site at the Northern Sands mine.

“Not only will there be a significant increase in the size and number of cruise ships and other vessels that can berth in Cairns, the shipping channel and other port upgrades open up opportunities for the naval presence in Far North Queensland as well,” Mr Butcher said.

“What this means on the ground is more visitors to Cairns, more demand for tourism experiences in this beautiful region and more jobs across a range of businesses.”

Dredging is expected to take 12 weeks and be complete mid-September 2019, with second dredge Woomera scheduled to join the works in late July 2019. The 65m Woomera will be used to remove the stiff clays from the channel.

Member for Cairns, Michael Healy, said the Cairns Shipping Development would mean for the very first time, cruise ships up to 300m in length would be able to enter the Cairns port, bringing with them thousands of tourists ready to spend their money on local businesses and experiences.

“With dredging well underway, we’ll see wharves one to six also get an upgrade in coming months,” Mr Healy said.

While the main purpose of the project is to take advantage of cruise shipping opportunities, it will also enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns Base by relocating the existing cargo swing basin; improve port efficiency by allowing larger cargo and other vessels through; and increase the resilience of the Port of Cairns against an extreme weather event.

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