Remote airport opens

The welcome crowd at the opening of the Aurukun Airport on Cape York Peninsula.

Aurukun Shire Council, Queensland, has opened its new $2.9 million airport which will host the more than 10,000 passengers a year who travel to and from the remote Cape York Peninsula Indigenous community.

Minister for Employment and Small Business, Training and Skills Development, and Ministerial Champion for Aurukun, Di Farmer joined Aurukun Mayor, Keri Tamwoy, to officially open Aurukun Airport which was funded as part of the Works for Queensland program.

Minister Farmer said, “The airport upgrade has been a priority project for Aurukun, so it’s wonderful to see this facility, which will support future growth and be of great benefit to the community, now open.

“The facility is not only functional, and a welcoming space for staff and visitors, but the design includes cultural elements significant to Aurukun presenting a wonderful opportunity to share the community’s history with thousands of visitors each year.”

The Aurukun Champions were greeted by Elders, councillors and community members who followed a pathway, decorated with a series of dots representing Aurukun’s three rivers, leading to and through the airport. The stunning red ochre-coloured aluminium entrance was inspired by the water lilies in Aurukun’s extensive wetlands. A second timber water lily sculpture is suspended from the ceiling in the passenger waiting lounge.

Mayor Tamwoy proudly showed guests through to the Alison Woolla Memorial Passenger Lounge, named after her late mother, who served as the Mayor of Aurukun in 1983-85 and 1991-94.

“Aviation access is critical for our community with around 620 residents regularly needing to fly to Cairns for medical treatment and business,” the Mayor said.

“Multiple service providers also fly into Aurukun on Skytrans and charter flights as well as the Royal Flying Doctor Service amounting to more than 750 flights each week before the pandemic.

“Until now we all faced the prospect of standing in the rain or the heat with very little undercover space and just a couple of bench seats to wait for our flights.

“Aurukun Shire Council has been improving the airstrip infrastructure over the past 30 years to accommodate the growing number of aircraft movements into our community and with that work completed it was time to improve the passenger and staff experience.”