Aurukun residents and stakeholders are being asked for feedback on plans to redevelop the airport into a welcoming and functional asset for the remote Cape York community.
Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Dereck Walpo said the environmentally-friendly design allowed for future growth, improved work conditions for staff and air crews, and easier maintenance.
“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 is time to focus on improving the passenger and staff experience,” he said.
“The Council-owned airport currently caters to more than 750 flights and around 10,000 passengers per year.
“Aurukun has more than 620 people utilising the low fare scheme to travel by air to and from Aurukun with the majority of Cairns trips for business and medical appointments.
“As the main access to and from Aurukun this outdated facility is due for an upgrade to better service the users including Skytrans, charter operators, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Queensland Police Service, and to make it more comfortable for residents and visitors to transit.
“The airport currently offers very little protection from the rain and no relief from the heat as the sheltered area is open to the elements and has basic bench seats which do not offer sufficient space for all passengers to be seated while waiting for an aircraft.
“Consultants SMEC/PDR and Gordon Gould Ipson Architects have designed a modern airport terminal that will serve the community well into the future allowing for passenger screening, the possibility of increased traffic to nearby mining sites, and the potential for tourism.
“The new design has an enclosed airconditioned building with more seating, improved office space, a small kiosk, improved onloading and offloading facilities, security inspection space, internal bathrooms, a waiting room for aircraft staff and formal car parking areas.
“The Welcome to Aurukun wall which was painted by Aurukun artists has been incorporated into the design which will feature more local art highlighting the talent of the community’s Wik and Kugu artists.
“Passengers arriving at Aurukun will walk through a red earth-coloured aluminium screen with a waterlily-shaped opening while people entering the airport from Aurukun will follow a winding pathway incorporating the Three Rivers artwork in the Council logo.
“The lore poles and two memorial plaques will be together in a memorial garden where the public can reflect and pay their respects as they enter the building.
“A number of Indigenous communities have modernised their airports in recent years including Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw and Mornington Island.
“Around $5 million funding is being sought to redevelop the outdated airport and we anticipate this work will start in the next dry season.
“The two existing Council staff residences located nearby will become the temporary airport terminal during the construction period.”
The Aurukun Airport plans can be seen at an information stall at the Aurukun Supermarket on November 23 and 30, and December 7 at 10.30am. Public submissions close at midday on December 9.