THE back-hoe dredge Woomera is the largest vessel of its kind in Australia and is the latest addition to the fleet of dredging contractor Hall Contracting Dredging and Construction Company.

It’s arrival signals the start of phase two in the dredging at Cairns port to widen and deepen the Trinity Inlet navigation channel.

The Woomera was renamed and launched in Brisbane last month, and is a Backacter 900 model designed in the Netherlands. It is 65 metres in length and can dredge depths of up to 26 metres.

The excavator attached to the back of the vessel weighs 370 tonnes and will use 10m³and 13m³ bucket attachments for the project.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the Woomera’s arrival was the crucial next step for the Cairns Shipping Development Project.

“It will be quite a sight to see the Woomera showing what it can do for the first time in Australian waters as it manoeuvres around the Port of Cairns’ inner channel,” Mr Healy said.

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“This is a crucial part of the of the project that will ensure the Port of Cairns will be well positioned to benefit from cruise shipping industry demands into the future.”

He said this means more ships, more visitors, more tourism and business opportunities for the region, as well as improved access and efficiency for bulk cargo ships and larger visiting Navy vessels.

Dredging work is expected to begin this week and to conclude in mid-September.

Ports North chairman Russell Beer said the Woomera will remove stiff clays from the inner harbour which will be transported by barge to Ports North’s Tingira Street placement site to be re-used in the industrial hub of the Port of Cairns.

“We selected the Tingira Street site because the stiff clays in the inner harbour have better engineering qualities than the soft silts in the outer channel and can be re-used for fill in land development,” Mr Beer said.

“This decision has been made following studies of the existing environment within Trinity Bay to minimise any potential adverse environmental, social and economic impacts while maximising potential economic benefits.”

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