PONTOON: NOT READY TILL NOV.
THE pontoon ‒ or floating walkway to be technical ‒ at the Daintree River boat ramp will not be ready until mid November.
The latest update from the Department of Transpsort and Main Roads came as a surprise to the Douglas Shire Council, which until last week had been told it was to be repaired and back in service by this week.
The walkway, used by fisherman mainly and some tour boat operators, is a critical safety add in waters known to carry large crocodiles.
It was damaged in the floods around the Ita cyclone.
The latest statement from the DTMR last Thursday to the Gazette was that, “We are sourcing replacement parts for the damaged pontoon from intrastate and expect them to be available by late October. The local council will install the parts, and the repaired pontoon is expected to be operational during November, weather permitting.
“Given the damage caused to the pontoon during severe weather, it took time to coordi- nate and retrieve the large, missing parts. We then inspected these parts to see what could be reused and repaired, and what needed to be replaced.
Mick Gwynne of Wonga is very keen fisherman.
He’s been wondering what’s going about the pontoon.
“They’ve just been sitting there and no one’s even working on them. They’ve been out of action since that cyclone. They’re taking their time.
“We definitely need the pontoon back in the water. You do have to go out into the water if you have to get in and out of your boat. Otherwise you have to that other public pontoon which can be busy with the tour boats.
“I won’t stand in the water. I normally get in my boat up the front. The back of the trailer’s in the water and I get in up the front and just reverse it off. And the same coming in.
“But not all boats are designed that way and not all people are experienced enough to do that, so they have to stand there and hold the boat while another bloke goes up to get the car and back the trailer down.
“It’s not good, especially at night. I mean the crocodiles are getting gamer and gamer around the place.
“They certainly need to address it pretty quick. But it’s just us fishermen — nobody worries too much about us, eh.”
David White, who has run the Solar Whisper tour boat for 12 years from that spot on the river, said the thought the design of the pontoon was flawed.
“I’m not surprised it didn’t cope in the flood,” he said. “The current’s just too strong, with the pressure on the side of it.
“It needs to be fixed up pretty soon. Five months is way too long. After all the whole point is that it’s there for safety.”
David White of Solar Whisper
Picture: SHANE NICHOLS