Dredging works are underway to deepen Cairns’ Trinity Inlet in order to make it accessible to superyachts and cruise ships as part of the $127 million Shipping Development project.
A 111-metre-long German-built dredging ship began the job and will be in operation for the next 12 weeks.
The vessel will remove the soft clays from the channel, which will then be delivered to a facility three kilometres offshore and pumped along an 8 kilometres pipeline to a dedicated site at the Northern Sands mine.
It is equipped with environmental systems to help protect sea flora and fauna.
A second dredge is scheduled to join the works in late July and will be used to remove the stiff clays from the channel.
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The Cairns Shipping Development aims to unlock a new tourism and jobs market for Far North Queensland.
Assistant Treasurer Glenn Butcher said the project has already created 800 direct and indirect jobs during construction and expects it to have created more than 2700 jobs for the region in 2031.
“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,” 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.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the Cairns Shipping Development would mean for the very first time, cruise ships up to 300 metres 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,” Healy said.
“It complements the Queensland Government’s infrastructure program for the Far North in 2019/20 which will deliver more than $967 million in key projects and support close to 3300 jobs.”