The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will conduct an out-of-water safety inspection of the Daintree Ferry from Monday morning next week.
Douglas Shire Council will close the vehicle ferry for five days from 12.01am on Monday 6 March 2023 to allow the inspection and vital maintenance tasks to be completed.
At high tide on Monday, dry-dock airbags will be placed on the concrete ramp at the southern side of the Daintree River and inflated slowly to help tow the ferry to shore. This could take up to six hours.
Inflation and deflation of the airbags is regulated by gauges to control lift capacity, ferry height and airbag pressure. The ferry will be washed down and inspected once secured.
After the inspection, Council will also undertake important maintenance tasks that can’t be done during normal operations.
At this stage, the ferry is scheduled to resume service at 5am on Saturday 11 March 2023.
Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the five-day closure was a complex exercise that would guarantee a safe ferry operation.
“The Daintree Ferry is a critical public transport service that connects people living on both sides of the Daintree River and is the arterial link for the tourism economy over the river,” he said.
“As one of the last cable vehicle ferries in tropical Australia, it is a unique service that transports about 230,000 vehicle movements between the southern bank of the river and the world’s oldest rainforest each year.
“The ferry is a workhorse that runs 19 hours on every day of the year, so we are taking the opportunity while it is out of the water to do as much maintenance as possible and we appreciate the community’s patience whilst this compulsory AMSA inspection is completed.”
“Council continues to invest in the iconic river crossing to ensure this required transport link maintains an exceptional level of service, improves travellers’ experience, enhances local community and complies with relevant safety requirements.”
Since announcing the closure in August 2022, Council held two drop-in sessions and sought feedback from key ferry users.
A 50-person passenger vessel will take people across the river during the closure – operating continuously all day from sunrise to sunset.
Council has organized security to protect any vehicles such as tour buses, which will be parked on the northern side during the closure, to enable companies to continue taking travellers on day tours to the Daintree.
Emergency services and Queensland Health have also put measures in place to ensure the community is well prepared.
More details are available at Council’s website here.