PON­TOON: NOT READY TILL NOV.

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - SHANE NI­CHOLS

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

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