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Far North

Fast facts

Far North District 
Map of Queensland with Far North District highlighted 
Area covered


Population of Queensland


Data source: Queensland Government Statistician's Office (Queensland Treasury), Queensland Regional Profiles, April 2020


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


Priority enabled intersection

Data source: *A Road Management Information System (ARMIS), 30 June 2020
Data source: **Bridge Information System (BIS), 30 June 2020


  • Commenced construction of the Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 3) (Edmonton to Gordonvale) project, jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.
  • Continued construction of the Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Stage 4) (Kate Street to Aumuller Street), jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.
  • Commenced intersection upgrade works on Cairns Western Arterial Road at Harley Street intersection, to improve safety and capacity.
  • Continued widening and sealing works on Burke Developmental Road between Chillagoe and Almaden, jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.
  • Completed upgrading six rest areas and installation of two new rest areas on the Bruce Highway between Cardwell and Cairns funded by the Australian Government.

Cape York Region Package

In late 2019, the finishing touches were applied to the program of works to upgrade the Peninsula Developmental Road between Laura and Weipa. The works were part of the $276 million Cape York Region Package (CYRP) Stage 1, a five year program of infrastructure upgrades jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.

The program sealed 173 kilometers of the road between Laura and Rio Tinto Boundary, south of Weipa, and as part of the CYRP Stage 1, the department progressed a five year package of projects to upgrade priority community infrastructure in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders council areas on Cape York.

In mid-2019, the Australian and Queensland governments announced a further $237.5 million program of works to deliver CYRP Stage 2 which will continue upgrading priority roads and transport infrastructure connecting to some of Queensland's most remote and disadvantaged communities.

The CYRP Stage 1 and CYRP Stage 2 programs are developing safe and sustainable land transport infrastructure on Cape York, empowering local communities across generations through training, employment, business development, and education scholarship opportunities.

Review of Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 capital dredging provisions for the Port of Cairns

The Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 provides a legislative framework for sustainable port development in Queensland and implementing the government’s key port-related commitments and other actions of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan. Restrictions on capital dredging form part of these commitments.

For the Port of Cairns, the Act includes specific provisions that permit limited capital dredging for a port facility within the inner harbour of the Port of Cairns. Up to 50,000 cubic metres of material can be approved to a limit of no more than 150,000 cubic metres of material in a four year period. The Act also includes a requirement for the review of these provisions.

Public consultation for the review was undertaken from 3 December 2019 to 7 February 2020. All submissions are being considered during the preparation of a report about the review. The outcome of the review will be published on the department's website and tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland.

Read more about the Port of Cairns

Smithfield Bypass Project

In early 2020, additional funding was announced to increase the scope of works for the Smithfield Bypass Project.

Additional works will upgrade the northern extent of the Cairns Western Arterial Road to four-lanes, from the Captain Cook Highway to the traffic signals at Caravonica State Primary School. It will improve safety for the tourism precinct at Caravonica, with the installation of new traffic signals at the intersection of the Cairns Western Arterial Road and Skyrail Drive.

Delivery of this project to design and construct a new bypass road at Smithfield is on track with major works commencing in April 2020.

Major works include:

  • upgrading the Caravonica roundabout to a signalised intersection at the Captain Cook Highway and Cairns Western Arterial Road
  • bridge works on the new overpass spanning McGregor Road roundabout
  • a new bridge at Avondale Creek
  • major culverts along the new bypass road.

The Smithfield Bypass Project will deliver increased safety and improved traffic flow for motorists between McGregor Road and Cairns Western Arterial Road. Construction is expected to be completed by late 2021, weather permitting.

Cairns Western Arterial Road – Harley Street Intersection upgrade

In early 2020, the department commenced upgrading the intersection of Cairns Western Arterial Road (CWAR) and Harley Street at Kamerunga. CWAR is one of Cairns' important strategic transport corridors, linking some of the city's most heavily populated residential areas. The $16.3 million Harley Street intersection upgrade project is funded by savings achieved from the nearby Bill Fulton Bridge duplication, which was completed in late 2017.

The upgrade includes duplication of a 1.35 kilometre section of CWAR between Kamerunga Road and Hythe Street, new pathways for pedestrians, clearer cycle lanes, and better access to public transport. The result will be a safer intersection for all road users with an improved traffic flow, particularly during peak hours.

The works are expected to finish in early 2021, weather permitting.

Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor

The department is currently progressing the delivery of two critical projects to improve traffic flow and safety on the Bruce Highway, south of Cairns.

In May 2020, works started on Stage 3 to duplicate a 10.5 kilometre section of the Bruce Highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale.

This $481 million project will bolster economic activity by improving access to Cairns for key industries, a growing population, and deliver long-term safety improvements.

Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2023, weather permitting.

Delivery is forging ahead on Stage 4 between Kate Street (renamed Links Drive) and Aumuller Street.

The new three-lane bridge at Chinaman Creek is nearing completion. Upgrades to the intersections of Lyons Street and Aumuller Street have commenced and progress is well advanced. The upgrade of Kenny Street and Draper Street roundabout to a signalised intersection progressed with the first of two new outbound slip lanes opened in late May 2020.

This $104.1 million project will deliver significant long-term improvements to traffic flow and safety and increase capacity to service the principal route for Cairns’ industrial and ports precinct. A new off-road shared pathway will also connect with the Cairns Southern Access Cycleway.

Project completion is expected by August 2021, weather permitting.

Innisfail Intersection Safety Improvements

This $4.7 million project included works conducted at two sites.

Works conducted on the Bruce Highway – Innisfail–Japoon Road intersection, included the removal of traffic islands, drainage and old underground services with the realignment and construction of an upgraded intersection with traffic signals, and the installation of new overhead street lighting.

The second site was the McGowan Drive roundabout, requiring the resurfacing of the road with mill and fill asphalt and drainage improvements to the Claire Street intersection.

The works were completed in October 2019.

Local Fare Scheme

The Local Fare Scheme was established 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, selected ports in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Torres Strait.

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

In early 2020, the Local Fare Scheme (LFS) was also used to enable the repatriation of several displaced people who had left the Far North Queensland community of Aurukun to Cairns during unrest.

In 2019–20, 17,892 LFS trips were booked, a decline on the prior year of 9666 trips. This drop in travel is the direct consequence of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The scheme was extended in 2019 for a further two years providing airfare assistance for the foreseeable future to the far north.

Read more about the Local Fare Scheme.

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 limited public transport options for residents to ensure communities can connect to essential services on the mainland.

The communities serviced 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.

The department is also working closely with delivery partners to ensure that regional communities continue to have access to essential services during COVID-19.

In 2019–20, approximately 2 million passengers travelled on contracted regional ferry services; a decrease of approximately 200,000 passengers from the previous financial year.

Read more about Regional Ferries.