CAIRNS’ $127m shipping development is one step closer with work underway to deepen Trinity Inlet during the next 12 weeks and make it ready for bigger vessels like cruise ships and super yachts.

Assistant treasurer Glenn Butcher, who recently visited the port said the 111metre dredging ship Balder R has begun its task to open up the inlet for cruise ships up to 300 metres in length.

“The Cairns shipping development is the key to unlocking a whole new tourism and jobs market for the far north,” Mr Butcher said.

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 be complete mid-September, with second dredge Woomera scheduled to join the works in late July. The 65metre Woomera will be used to remove the stiff clays from the channel.

“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,” Ports North chairman Russell Beer said.

“This latest milestone in the project is very exciting for us.”