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Far North Region

Far North covers an area of 272,216km2, or around 15.8% of Queensland and is the northern most part of the state. Extending from the Torres Strait Islands in the north, to the top of the Cardwell Range in the south, and from Cairns in the east to Croydon in the west, this district is home to around 5.72% of Queensland’s total population.

Far North Queensland supports a significant agricultural sector and a number of significant mines and many national parks. Home to World Heritage sites including the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. The region includes 3,156km of state-controlled roads and 217km of the National Land Transport Network.

Regional facts

Area covered


Population of Queensland


Data source: Queensland Government Statistician's Office (Queensland Treasury), Queensland Regional Profiles (retrieved 16 May 2019)


State-controlled roads**


National Land Transport Network**


Vehicle and machinery registrations


Boating infrastructures


Community safety events held


Vehicle safety inspections completed




Drivers licence tests conducted


Customer face-to-face interaction


Driver reviver locations

Data source: *Bridge Information System (BIS), 30 June 2019
Data source: **A Road Management Information System (ARMIS), 2019


  • Provided funding through the Community Road Safety Grants Scheme to the Port Douglas Football Club to address fatigue management in the Palm Cove and Port Douglas areas.
  • Completed the evaluation of the Local Fare Scheme aims to improve the standard of living and connectivity in remote parts of Far North Queensland.
  • Commenced construction on the $104.1 million1 Cairns Southern Access (Stage 4) Kate Street to Aumuller Street Project.
  • Completed the $800,000 boat ramp and new floating walkway at Edmonton.
  • Commenced construction of the $152 million2 Smithfield Bypass Project.
  • Completed a $14.5 million2 project to seal Endeavour Valley Road between Cooktown and Hope Vale.
  • Completed the $6.1 million1,3 upgrade of the intersections of, Pine and Blackwood Streets, Innisfail.
  • Commenced a $23.3 million1 upgrade of the Mission Beach Clump Point Boating Infrastructure.
  • Completed $26.2 million4 upgrade works at priority locations on the Peninsula Developmental Road including Piccaninny Black Soil, South of Duck Holes and 10 Mile Creek as part of the Cape York Region Package.

Cape York Region Package

The Cape York Region Package (CYRP) is nearing completion, with 16 of the 18 sections upgraded and sealed on the Peninsula Developmental Road (PDR) and the completion of more than 70% of the community infrastructure works program.

In 2018–19, the $276 million CYRP delivered significant achievements including:

  • 160km of upgrades and bitumen seal on the PDR
  • completion of the Endeavour Valley Road which provides a sealed road between Cooktown and Hope Vale
  • completion of key community infrastructure projects delivered with Cape York councils, such as the $1.2 million airport bridge at Lockhart River. This important project improved flood immunity and reliability on a key route linking the community to the airport and PDR
  • completion of more than 50km of community access roads that connect remote Indigenous communities to the PDR.

The CYRP continues to provide outcomes for communities by improving access across the Cape and empowering local communities across generations through training, employment and business development opportunities.

As at 30 June 2019, 16 PDR projects have provided 140,000 hours of training and employment to local Indigenous community members in civil construction, vegetation and road maintenance works.

Future priorities under the CYRP will include 2 final sealing projects on the PDR programmed for completion in late-2019, and the further delivery of community infrastructure projects in local council areas, connecting people across the Cape.

Indigenous staff in high-visibility clothing standing in front of work truck

Indigenous employees at Fair View West to Kennedy (Part A).

For more information: Cape York Region Package Peninsula Developmental Road

Cairns Shipping Development Project

On 15 December 2018, the state government announced the Cairns Shipping Development Project, a $127 million project which will increase the size and number of cruise and other vessels able to berth in Cairns.

The project, led by Far North Queensland Ports Corporation (trading as Ports North), will facilitate cruise ship growth for vessels up to 300 metres, with a forecast demand of up to 150 cruise ships through Cairns by 2031. It is estimated to provide a $850 million boost for Far North Queensland.

Environmental approvals were granted by both state and federal governments in 2018, with the project passing one of the most rigorous environmental reviews in Australia. Following Building Queensland’s detailed business case and shareholding Ministers’ approval for the project in December 2018, Ports North has initiated vital construction steps to progress with the works.

Ports North plans to undertake dredging and wharf upgrade works in mid-2019 with a final project completion in 2020.

Construction commences on the Smithfield Bypass

Delivery of the $152 million project to design and construct a new bypass road at Smithfield continued with construction commencing in December 2018.

The Smithfield Bypass will significantly improve traffic flow between McGregor Road and Cairns Western Arterial Road, north of Cairns.

This year, the department established two Community Liaison Groups, one for local business stakeholders, the other for residents and community members. These groups provide an opportunity for bi-lateral information sharing with TMR’s project team and the wider community to enhance their understanding of the project.

The new bypass road will provide vital community infrastructure for the northern beaches of Cairns and meet the strategic transport needs of the area into the future. It will also deliver a safer, more efficient travel route for motorists and industry along this section of the Captain Cook Highway.

Construction is expected to be complete by late-2021, construction and weather conditions permitting.

For more information: Smithfield Bypass project

Assistance to vessel in distress

On 11 July 2018, the department assisted the vessel in distress, ‘Touraraken III’, 148 kilometres east of the tip of Cape York.

The vessel’s compass was broken, it had no global positioning system equipment, no satellite phone and the anchoring system was not functioning, so the ship could not hold position. Radio reception was unreliable given the remote location.

Over the next 14 hours, the department played a central role in the rescue and welfare of eight foreign sailors from the vessel lost in a remote section of Torres Strait through maintaining the communication conduit between state and federal government agencies coordinating the operation. The vessel was safely escorted to Thursday Island, where TMR staff met the tired crew, ensured compliance with immigration requirements and looked after their welfare. Arrangements were made for a surveyor to inspect the ship to ensure rectifications were made to enable safe passage to Vanuatu.

The Touraraken III ship at sea

Touraraken III at sea.

Regional ferries connecting communities

The department partners with five operators to deliver regional ferry services facilitating year-round government- guaranteed community service through concessional agreements and service contracts. These ferries service islands with no other public transport options for residents to ensure communities can connect to essential services on the mainland.

The communities this service is provided to are:

  • Thursday Island - in the Torres Strait
  • Palm Island - off Ingham
  • Magnetic Island - off Townsville
  • Coochiemudlo Island - off Cleveland
  • North Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay.

In 2018–19 approximately 2.2 million passengers travelled on TMR contracted regional ferry services, an increase of two per cent from the previous financial year.

Ferries docked at port

The Magnetic Island ferry, servicing the Townsville to Magnetic Island route.

Mapoon Airstrip upgrade

A $1.9 million project to upgrade the Mapoon Airstrip is being undertaken by Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council.

The project is funded through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (ATSI TIDS), CYRP and the Regional Aviation Access Programme (RAAP).

Mapoon Airstrip is the last community airstrip to be sealed in Cape York and the Torres Strait and an essential service to the people of Mapoon and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).

The work at the airstrip will include widening, lengthening and sealing the airstrip to enable all weather operation and meet RFDS requirements.

Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 3)

The Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 3) $481 million project to duplicate a 10.5 kilometre section of the Bruce Highway to create a four-lane highway from Edmonton south to Gordonvale is about to commence.

The project will deliver significant safety improvements along this section of the Bruce Highway, which is the busiest two-lane section of the Bruce Highway between Brisbane and Cairns. Works will include:

  • duplication of all existing two-lane sections of the Bruce Highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale to four lanes
  • a new alignment for the Bruce Highway, to the eastern side of the existing highway, between Peterson Road and Warner Road
  • a new signalised intersection at Peterson Road and upgraded signalised intersection at Draper Road and Riverstone Road.
  • new service roads that remove local trips from the highway
  • realignment and upgrade of more than 4.7 kilometres of the Queensland Rail North Coast Line to accommodate the duplicated highway
  • removal of multiple at-grade rail crossings and the upgrade of boom gates at other crossings
  • new road and rail bridges at Wrights Creek and Stoney Creek
  • a new Bruce Highway overpass south of Maitland Road
  • a dedicated off-road high-speed cycleway, from Riverstone Road to the north of Collinson Creek to tie into the existing cycleway at Thompson Road.

The design and construct contracts are expected to be awarded in late-2019. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2023, construction and weather conditions permitting.

For more information: Bruce Highway Cairns Southern Access Corridor Stage 3 Edmonton to Gordonvale

Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 4)

Construction began on the $104.1 million Bruce Highway between Kate Street (renamed Links Drive) and Aumuller Street.

This project will see the existing four-lane dual carriageway increased to six lanes and upgrades at the key intersections of Lyons and Aumuller Streets through to Draper and Kenny Streets. The project will deliver significant long- term improvements to traffic flow and safety as well as an increased capacity to service the principal route for Cairns’ industrial and port precinct.

Works underway include:

  • construction of additional lanes to widen the Bruce Highway from four to six lanes between Links Drive through to Aumuller Street near the Port of Cairns and wharf precinct
  • removing and replacing the current northbound bridge at Chinaman Creek with a new three-lane bridge and widening the existing southbound bridge to three lanes
  • upgrading the Lyons Street and Aumuller Street intersection, with additional turning lanes to improve traffic flow
  • installing an off-road shared pathway for cyclists and pedestrians.

Preparation undertaken for major works to start included the relocation of public services, rapid impact compaction, installation of wick drains, surcharge loading, and placement of liners and rock at Chinaman Creek in the lead up to bridge works. Construction is expected to be completed in late-2021.

For further information: Bruce Highway Cairns Southern Access Corridor Stage 4

Bluewater Marina floating walkway

The Bluewater Marina public boat ramp received $1.2 million upgrade as part of the state government’s continued investment in marine infrastructure in North Queensland. Works included reconstruction of the two-lane boat ramp to current TMR all-tide standard with non-slip surface, installation of a floating walkway, and an improved car park turning area for vehicles. As part of these works dredging of the immediate area surrounding the boat ramp was also undertaken.

Boating and fishing plays an important part in the life of many Queenslanders and the Queensland Government is committed to providing improved facilities for the community. The upgrade was completed in April 2019.

Two lane boat ramp looking out to marina

Reconstructed two-lamp boat ramp at the Bluewater Marina in Cairns.

Mission Beach Clump Point boat ramp

Construction of the $23.3 million Mission Beach Clump Point Boating Infrastructure project commenced in February 2019. The upgrade of the recreational and commercial boating facility at Mission Beach, Clump Point is being delivered in two stages.

Works started in December 2018 and includes the installation of a new detached breakwater, installation of a toilet block in the southern carpark, an additional boat ramp lane and upgrade to the existing breakwater. These works are expected to be completed in December 2019.

Element 2 of the project, which was awarded in May 2019, includes an additional boat ramp floating walkway, an access jetty behind the new breakwater, two berthing pontoons, five to six pen berths and five swing moorings.

Boat ramp with pontoon walkway

The Clump Point boat ramp at Mission Beach opened over the Easter and ANZAC Day holiday period.

Ash, Pine, Blackwood intersection with the Bruce Highway

Construction has been completed on the $6.1 million project to upgrade the intersections of Ash, Blackwood and Pine intersections in Innisfail.

Works were completed in April 2019, and included pavement widening and rehabilitation, reconfiguration of the intersection at Ash Street with designated turn lanes, and new traffic signals.

This also included a right-hand turn and left-turn slip lanes at the intersection of Blackwood Street and the Bruce Highway, and new right-hand turn lanes from each direction at the intersection of the Bruce Highway and Pine Street.

Innisfail–Japoon Road intersection upgrade

Construction is expected to be complete on the state and federally funded $4 million upgrade to the intersection of the Bruce Highway with Innisfail–Japoon Road in late 2020.

The safety works include installation of a fully controlled right-turn with arrows, re-alignment of the existing right-turn to increase storage and modification of the left-turn from Innisfail–Japoon Road onto the Bruce Highway.

This project is part of the 15-year Bruce Highway Upgrade Program, a $12.6 billion program of works to improve safety, flood resilience and capacity along the Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Cairns.

Local Fare Scheme

The Local Fare Scheme was established by TMR in July 2015 and aims to improve the standard of living and connectivity in remote parts of Far North Queensland. The scheme is administered in collaboration with participating airlines and partnerships with local councils throughout Cape York, select ports in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Torres Strait.

By providing a discount of up to $400 off a return airfare for eligible residents, the scheme makes air travel to access health, education and employment facilities and social and recreational opportunities such as cultural celebrations and sporting tournaments more affordable where limited alternative transport options are available.

The scheme is continuing to grow, with more than 12,400 bookings for 2018–19 representing a 33 per cent increase on the previous financial year. Over 33,000 bookings have been made under the Local Fare Scheme since its commencement. The scheme was extended in 2019 for a further two years providing airfare assistance for the foreseeable future to the far north.

Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program

The Australian Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) provides $508 million over 10 years from 2013–14 to 2022–23 towards improving heavy vehicle safety and freight efficiency. The HVSPP (Round 6) results were announced in August 2018, with Queensland securing approximately $41.1 million (31 per cent of the national allocation) towards a total cost of $87 million for 17 state- and local government-controlled road projects.

The nine successful projects on the state-controlled road network are:

  • Pavement strengthening and widening works:
    • Carnarvon Highway – two locations (Injune – Rolleston and St George - Surat)
    • Peak Downs Highway (Clermont – Nebo)
  • Timber bridge replacements:
    • One Arm Man Creek (Jackson – Wandoan Road)
    • Emu Creek (New England Highway)
    • Kilcoy Creek (D’Aguilar Highway)
    • Coondoo Creek (Tin Can Bay Road)
  • Bridge strengthening:
    • Gulf Developmental Road - two locations: Little River and Routh Creek.

Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program bridge strengthening

Bridge rehabilitation works are underway on the Mulligan Highway (Mount Molloy – Lakeland). These works form part of TMR’s bridge maintenance program, the purpose of which is to rehabilitate and strengthen bridges to maximise safe and smooth travel for road users.

The Program includes work on the following bridges:

  • $3 million Spring Creek Bridge (about 35 kilometres north of Mount Carbine)
  • $2.4 million Kelly St George River Bridge (about 42 kilometres north of Mount Carbine)
  • $1.8 million Spear Creek Bridge (about 23 kilometres south of Lakeland)
  • $4.2 million Palmer River Bridge (about 31 kilometres south of Lakeland).

The works were completed between May and July 2019.

Future priorities

  • Continue the design phase of the $5.5 million Yorkeys Knob new boat ramp and floating walkways.
  • Commence excavation of existing ramp and installation of ramp elements for the $800,000 Bramston Beach, Joyce Creek boat ramp and walkway.
  • Commence $16.4 million2 intersection upgrade works on Cairns Western Arterial Road at Harley Street intersection, to improve safety and capacity.
  • Continue the $23.3 million Mission Beach Clump Point boating infrastructure project.
  • Continue $416,0002 planning capacity improvements for Captain Cook Highway (Cairns to Mossman).
  • Continue the $700,0002 planning project for safety and capacity improvements at the Machans Beach and Holloways Beach roundabouts on the Captain Cook Highway.
  • Continue the $21.9 million5 road safety improvement works on the Captain Cook Highway.
  • Commence design for road safety improvements on $18.2 million5 Gillies Range Road.
  • Commence a $45 million5 package of safety works on Kennedy Highway between Kuranda and Mareeba.
  • Commence a $11 million3 flood immunity upgrade on the Bruce Highway at Dallachy Road.


  • 1 This project is jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government.
  • 2 Funded by the Queensland Government.
  • 3 Funded under the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program.
  • 4 Part of the Australian Government’s Cape York Region Package, jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government.
  • 5 Funded through the Queensland Government’s High Risk Roads Initiative, as part of the Targeted Road Safety Program.