New jetty to improve access to tourism, industry and growth

Posted January 23, 2015

Mornington-Island

Frank Mills Mornington shire council CEO with the remains of the jetty structure on Mornington Island.

It’s a truism that the further north you go in Australia, the better the fishing. Combine that with anglers and you have a market.

When it happens to be in one of Australia’s most pristine areas, home to endangered dugong and numerous turtle species, you have eco-tourism.

That, in a nutshell, is part of the economic plan for the future of Mornington Shire in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The local council has responsibility over 22 islands making up the Wellesley Group with the main population base located in Gununa, on Mornington Island northwest of Karumba.

Mayor Cr Brad Wilson and four councillors are leading the implementation of ambitious plans to increase the quality of life for residents following an investment, jobs, opportunity and growth model.

The locals are original ‘saltwater people’, so “any long term solution needs to embrace the sea in a sustainable fashion”, explains Mornington Shire Council Grants and Communications Coordinator Layla Kirchhoff.

“Council has called for master plans for a revitalised jetty and foreshore precinct,” Ms Kirchhoff said.

“The jetty desperately needs to be replaced following damage by multiple Cyclones including Yasi, as well as being struck by a barge. A new structure will ultimately allow for safer evacuation procedures in the event of future cyclones as well as provide moorings for vessels (commercial or leisure) needing to replenish supplies.”

“Improved infrastructure will encourage a more competitive market while providing real social and economic benefits.”

Employing locals creates pride, provides skills, nurtures education and improves the quality of life in remote regions.”

“The upgrades will encourage a culturally appropriate eco-tourism industry while providing services from fuel, fishing supplies, welding and maintenance - even cafes.”

Ballpark figures for the investment are coming in at between four and eight million dollars.

Council has drafted application for funding through the National Stronger Regions Funding program with commercial interests approached to help facilitate council’s commitment, said Ms Kirchhoff.

The return on investment in terms of job creation could not be underestimated, she said.

“If you want to make a difference, you have to be forward thinking and start conversations.”

“The project is expected to generate significant local employment. The benefits filter right through the community. The ultimate outcomes are training, education and local work opportunities.”

Mornington Island is the residential centre of the shire with approximately 1,500 residents and 100 visitors daily.

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