$7.5m vi­sion to give Dain­tree a Gateway

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

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

Gateway

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