$7.5m vision to give Daintree a Gateway
THE Daintree Gateway master plan unveiled this week by Cairns Regional Council will outline a $7.5 million five-year plan to create a welcoming, natural gateway at the western precinct area of the Daintree river crossing.
The minimum scope of works which council officers are currently working on has stripped some of the more extravagant and expensive “aspirational” elements out of the plan and focused on the most economically and environmentally realistic solution.
“The ’ wow factor’ in this project is about the Daintree rainforest, not about the built infrastructure,” council’s regional manager for Douglas Liz Collyer said.
“It’s about ensuring the visitor experience and sense of arrival to the area complements the Daintree’s natural beauty.
“The vision we’ve developed is based on enhancing the natural beauty of the Daintree rather than overwhelming that with built structures.”
The plan, which has not yet been approved by the community’s consultative group or by council, will focus on improving the look of the western precinct and the adjacent southern bank of the ferry crossing, as well as more minor works on the northern bank of the river and at the Daintree ferry turnoff.The current plan is the result of a communitybased triage of proposals.
“This draft master plan is a phased, five-year plan based on what people told us was the minimum necessary,” Ms Collyer said. “We’d like to tackle these issues over the next five years and then see how the truly aspirational elements then fit in.”
One key to the Gateway is the rationalisation of signs and information. With dozens of different signs scattered around the region, council says a lot of visitors are missing out because they don’t understand the scale of the Daintree.
An information area near the turn-off to the ferry will give visitors a better idea of what to expect, including estimated driving times between major points of interest.
However, it is the western precinct which is shaping as the major project.
The site, currently a collection of tour humpies and porta-loos on a muddy patch of dirt, will be given a major facelift, including a great number of trees that over time will provide a canopy, a separate car park for the boat ramp, and a riverside boardwalk.
The tour kiosks will also be consolidated under one roof, possibly with a small cafe.
Division 10 councillor Julia Leu said it was “crunch time” for the Daintree Gateway.
“Given the state of the tourism economy, particularly north of the river, the sooner we can complete these projects the better,” she said.
Council is exploring the possibility of state and federal funding.
“Given the significance of the Daintree, I think both the state and federal governments should be involved,” Cr Leu said. Council will have the master plan on display at the Mossman administrative office and the new council kiosk at the Saltwater building in Macrossan St in Port Douglas. The ’public comment’ period for the plan is open until the end of April.
Design: the proposed
western precinct of the Daintree