Cairns is to get a major new entertainment, tourism and leisure precinct to rival major city waterfront spaces and transform the Cairns waterfront, Acting Premier Paul Lucas announced today.

Unveiling plans for the $23.3 million project to redevelop the Port of Cairns foreshore, Mr Lucas said the works were the largest investment in the Cairns CBD and tourism industry in many years.

“This is a big shot in the arm for Cairns and is the most extensive development of the foreshore since the Cityport North works and the Cairns Esplanade and Lagoon opened in 2003.

“Cairns is a tourism Mecca that’s been hit hard by the GFC, Cyclone Yasi and the high Australian dollar

“The more that we can invest in quality infrastructure like this project the more chance Cairns has of boosting tourism numbers.

“These visitors will then go home and tell their friends and family about how beautiful Cairns is and the fantastic time they had.

“The Queensland Government-owned Ports North is bringing forward the redevelopment to support jobs, investment and economic development in Cairns and the region.

“This work will complete the 1.6 kilometre public waterfront promenade linking the Esplanade through to the new Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal.

“The redevelopment will improve and expand public space with a series of linked and activated parklands which showcase the tropical environment of Cairns,” Mr Lucas said.

The Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure, Craig Wallace said: “The centrepiece of this new development will see an interactive play and climbing structure built through and around the 70 year old fig tree adjacent to Wharf 1.

“As well a major heritage restoration of Shed 2 will be undertaken to create new commercial space suitable for a wide range of opportunities including retail, restaurants, exhibition and markets together with a new kiosk and public seating areas on Wharf 1.

“The development will also include new featured lighting to the historic wharf piles, additional public view platforms over the water, BBQ areas and shelters and a special refurbished fishing deck,” he said.

Other key aspects of the new foreshore development include:

  • A new seawall to the whole of the precinct
  • Palm tree lined seating areas to the front of the Hilton Hotel
  • A range of small and large public artworks
  • Refurbishment of the existing car park to service the development
  • New link from Wharf Street through to the waterfront
  • Tropical landscaping throughout providing a balance of shaded and open parklands

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said: “The area will also provide an important link to the new Cairns Entertainment Precinct to be built to the south of the Cruise Liner Terminal including the restoration of the historic Whites Shed.

“Not only are we making the most of our beautiful foreshore but along the way it’s estimated this project will create 160 full and part time jobs over a two-year period in planning and construction.

Member for Barron River Steve Wettenhall said: “This project builds on the work completed previously by Ports North in Cityport that has provided significant tourism and marine infrastructure for the city.

“As a City we are maximising the use and enjoyment of the foreshore by locals and tourists alike.

Ports North Chairman, Dr Ken Chapman said: “The development is consistent with the long term Cityport Master Plan and the future commercial development of the adjacent land will further enhance the precinct and provide important funds for ongoing port operations.

“Following the successful completion and opening of the $13.6 million Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal late last year, it’s exciting to move straight onto our next major project to improve the Cairns waterfront,” Dr Chapman said.

“The Port has always been a critical and essential contributor to the economic strength and development of the city and region as well employment generator.

“This work continues that tradition and commitment.”