Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program reaches Mornington Island, Julia Creek, Gregory Downs

Mornington Island locals wait at their airport. It's the only commercial way on and off the indigenous gulf community and is therefore significant for access, medical treatment and supplies. Photo: Steve Hodder Watt.

Mornington Island locals wait at their airport. It's the only commercial way on and off the indigenous gulf community and is therefore significant for access, medical treatment and supplies. Photo: Steve Hodder Watt.

North West Queensland and the Gulf have received more than $4.6 million to improve remote airstrips through round four of the federal government’s national Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program. 

Mornington Island and Julia Creek receive the most money out of the 91 aerodrome projects funded across Australia. The remote gulf community of Mornington Island receives more than a quarter of the total funding allocated across all these chosen projects. 

The Mornington Island airstrip receives $3 million to upgrade the taxiway and runway lighting, and to improve weather capability and the pilot resting area. There will be further repairs to the airstrip. 

Julia Creek is the second highest in the list of projects funded. It has been allocated $1,170,545 for re-construction and re-sealing of the runway, for relining and basic work to threshold and runway lights. 

Other communities in the region to receive federal funding for airstrip funding are Gregory Downs, $110,000, Normanton, $246, 819, and Karumba, $129,321. Birdsville in the south west also receives $49,000. 

Gregory Downs is part of the Burke Shire. The mayor Ernie Camp said “funding is welcome and critical to protect the airstrip”.

He said the tarmac was stripping away. The improvements were vital for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

This airstrip was significant to the RFDS as much road traffic passed through Gregory Downs to get from Doomadgee and Burketown to Cloncurry, Councillor Camp said. 

It was also important because the Gregory was the location of the annual canoe races and the May Day horse races. A boost in population at this time meant injuries were inevitable, the mayor said.

Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter said those that worked hard in securing the funding should be congratulated. 

“This is a wonderful achievement for all of our people who have aggressively sought money for the upgrading of our rural airports,” he said. 

“During the wet season it is impossible to keep all of the roads operable and our airports quite literally become our only lifeline.” 

Queensland Senator Ian Macdonald said the funding will be a significant upgrade to essential infrastructure as well as boost these regional economies. He was pleased to be part of a government investing in regions.

The federal government had a fully funded plan to unlock Northern Australia’s economic potential, he said. 

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