QUEENSLAND transport minister Mark Bailey and Member for Cairns Michael Healy have announced a $20m contract to modernise the Port of Cairns’ six wharves, which were built more than 100 years ago.

It marks a major milestone for the third and final stage of the State Government’s $127m Cairns Shipping Development Project.

The upgrading of wharves 1-6 is to complement the widening and deepening of the shipping channel which is currently being dredged.

A new concrete jetty will be constructed along the front of wharf 6 to replace the decayed timber wharf structure with a portion of the old structure to be revealed and retained for heritage and interpretive purposes.

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“Once complete it’ll mean more ships, more visitors, more tourism and business opportunities for the region,” Mr Healy said.

The contract has been awarded to Austral Construction, with many local suppliers being utilised on the project.

Ports North engaged heritage and wharf design experts to develop an innovative design that retains the majority of the existing heritage wharves 1-5 by installing a series of independent dolphin structures inset into the existing heritage listed wharves.

Ports North Chairman, Russell Beer said, “The supply of steel piles worth $3.5m for the wharf works was also recently awarded to J Steel Australasia Pty Ltd and production is well under way”.

The wharf upgrade project is expected to be completed by late April 2020, weather permitting.

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