1 June 2023

Big win for tourism as Mitchell River Crossing allocated $22 million for upgrade

| Matt Nicholls
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The Mitchell River Crossing on the Dunbar Koolatah Road provides a shortcut between the Cape and Gulf country.

The Mitchell River Crossing on the Dunbar Koolatah Road provides a shortcut between the Cape and Gulf country.

A CAPE York “shortcut” that is used by locals and tourists is getting a major upgrade to improve access throughout the year.

The Mitchell River Crossing, which is technically in Carpentaria Shire Council but benefits the Cape communities of Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw and those wanting quicker access between the Gulf and Peninsula, will get a $22 million upgrade this year.

The project is jointly funded by the state and federal governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) Betterment Fund.

The Dunbar Koolatah Road has been closed since December 2022 and is regularly closed due to the river height at Mitchell River Crossing.

The crossing links rural properties between Koolatah and Maramie to business centres such as Normanton and Mareeba.

Murray Watt, the federal Minister for Emergency Management said the works would be a coup for the region.

“The closure of Dunbar Koolatah Road is proving especially challenging right now for livestock transport providers, adding three hours to their travel time as they use an alternate route,” Minister Watt said.

“Repairing this crossing to a more resilient standard will be a huge boost for the region, especially local cattle properties and FNQ communities like Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw.

“Betterment funding allows disaster-impacted councils to get on with their flood recovery efforts, with investments like this helping minimise future damage to essential public assets.”

Carpentaria Shire Council mayor Jack Bawden said the works would allow traffic to access the road earlier in the dry season.

“The level of funding provided through DRFA will ensure a new crossing will be constructed that will allow road movements to continue much earlier than has occurred in past years,” he said.

“This funding is a game-changer for road users within this part of the council area, and our rural landowners in the Mitchell River area will be very pleased with this funding announcement also.”

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