10 May 2023

Archer River to get long-awaited phone tower, Musgrave misses out

| Matt Nicholls
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The announcement was made in Cairns last week by Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, along with Minister Mark Coulton.

It has been two years and two months since the announcement that Archer River would be getting a phone tower, only for owners Brad and Modena Allan to find out it would be an Optus satellite tower, which would be of no use to most Cape York locals.

Musgrave Roadhouse was also among the locations listed in the March 2019 announcement for the federal government’s Blackspot Funding Program and also had to reject the offer of an inferior Optus tower.

However, Musgrave Roadhouse was not included in last week’s announcement.

Mr Entsch said: “This takes 4G to the Archer and there’s more money in the budget … we expect Musgrave to be next in line. I’m already talking to Telstra about it.”

“I want Musgrave, along with Palmer River and the Lion’s Den.”

In making the announcement last Wednesday, Mr Entsch also said a phone tower would be erected at Cow Bay, near the Daintree Rainforest.

There were mixed responses from both roadhouses regarding the phone tower news.

“It’s a good thing for us,” said Archer River Roadhouse’s Brad Allan last week.

“We’ve been pushing for it for quite a few years.”

Archer River currently relies on satellite internet which is slower than 4G and costs more for data.

The roadhouse had to create a special wifi network for visitors to comply with COVID-Safe rules requiring visitors to check in with an app.

“That has cost us money and we’re only trying to do the right thing when it comes to the rules around COVID,” Mr Allan said.

At Musgrave Roadhouse, co-owner John McDowall was livid he missed out.

“We were promised funding more than two years ago; only for them to tell us it was going to be Optus, which would have been completely useless for all locals and most tourists,” he said.

“I’m happy that they got it at the Archer but we need a tower here, too.”

Mr McDowall said he wasn’t concerned about a lack of 4G at the roadhouse, but wanted phone reception to improve safety in the Cape.

“We get more cars on the road every year and there’s no reception from Laura to Coen. There are times when people need to call triple zero,” he said.

“I’ve had Telstra people here before telling me that if they put a tower on Bamboo Range they’d probably cover most of that territory, including us and Hann River Roadhouse.”

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