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Yorkeys Knob boat ramp FAQs

by Boating Infrastructure Team 14 Jul 06:08 UTC
Yorkeys Knob boat ramp © Queensland Government

Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback about the Yorkeys Knob Boat Ramp project so far. Your input is important.

We are starting to notice some consistent themes emerging, so we have developed the attached Frequently Asked Questions in response to some of your queries and concerns.

Please feel free to share this document amongst your networks.

Other information about the project, including a fact sheet and concept plan, can be found at

If anyone would like to have their details added to our email contact list, please tell them to contact us directly at .

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Background

1.1 Where is the project located?

Yorkeys Knob is located approximately 20km north of Cairns.

1.2 How did the project come about?

For many years, local boaties have been calling for more recreational boat ramps around Cairns.

TMR's Recreational Boating Facilities Demand Forecasting Study 2017 confirmed that there is an urgent need for additional marine facilities in Cairns to cater for current and future demand, particularly in the northern beaches.

In April 2016, the Honourable Mark Bailey MP, Minister for Transport and Main Roads, asked Mr Craig Crawford MP, Member for Barron River, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), Cairns Regional Council (CRC), CAirns REcreational Fishing Industry Stake Holders (CAREFISH) and local boaties to form a Community Reference Group tasked with identifying potential locations for a new recreational boat launching facility in northern Cairns.

The reference group investigated multiple locations between Cairns and Ellis Beach, and found most were unsuitable due to tide restrictions, environmental impacts, availability of land, exposure to open waters and dredging requirements. The group eventually identified vacant state-owned land at Yorkeys Knob, about 20 km north of Cairns, as the preferred location to focus further investigations.

Throughout 2017, TMR worked closely with Yorkeys Knob Boating Club (YKBC) to assess the feasibility of installing new ramps within the existing marina. However, this option was not supported by YKBC members and in late 2017, TMR advised it would not progress any further planning for an in-marina solution.

In November 2017, the Queensland Government committed to a new boat launching facility at Yorkeys Knob with $5.5 million allocated via the Marine Infrastructure Fund.

1.3 What is the current status of the project?

After lengthy investigations, TMR has published a new concept located on vacant land outside of YKBC and Half Moon Bay Golf Club (HMBGC). TMR is now working with key stakeholders and the local community to develop this proposal, address any concerns and progress planning activities.

There is still a lot of work to be done before construction can commence. The project team must undertake a number of marine and geotechnical investigations, as well as develop designs. The proposed site is located outside the (Commonwealth Government) Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. However, it is located within the (Queensland Government) Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and TMR needs to obtain appropriate approvals from associated environmental agencies.

At this time, we hope to commence construction in 2020, however, this is dependent on a number of variables and subject to change.

1.4 What is included in the proposed project?

Planning is still preliminary, and the project scope will be refined as design and planning progresses. The project will likely include:

  • a six lane boat ramp with two floating walkways, located on vacant land immediately outside the existing harbour walls at Yorkeys Knob
  • two new breakwaters for wave protection
  • a dredged basin (depth to -1.5 metres below Lowest Astronomical Tide)
  • an access channel connecting to the existing dredged entrance servicing Half Moon Creek, Bluewater Marina, and Trinity Park canal estate
  • a sealed car-trailer park, wholly located on state land
  • a 100-metre rock revetment protecting the new car park
  • a new access road (approximate length 500 metres) across state land connecting the proposed boating facility to Buckley Street.
The project does not include any upgrades at other boat ramps, such as the existing ramp at Yorkeys Knob.

1.5 How much will the project cost and who is paying for it?

The total cost of the project, at the proposed location, is estimated at $11 million, which includes:

  • about $5.5 million for 'in-water' works (breakwaters, dredging, boat ramp, floating walkway)
  • about $5.5 million for 'land-side' works (car-trailer parking, access road, revetments).
The Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program 2018—19 to 2021—22 includes $5.5 million from the Marine Infrastructure Fund to progress this project, in line with the 2017 commitment.

Construction of 'land side' works associated with new marine infrastructure is usually paid for by the relevant local government authority. TMR will work with Cairns Regional Council to determine arrangements for the remaining funding.

1.6 When will the ramp be built?

There is still a lot of work to be done before construction can commence. The project team must undertake a number of marine and geotechnical investigations, develop designs, undertake further consultation and secure a funding commitment for the on-land works.

The proposed site is located outside the (Commonwealth Government) Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. However, it is located within the (Queensland Government) Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and TMR needs to obtain appropriate approvals from associated environmental agencies.

At this time, we hope to commence construction in 2020, however, this is dependent on a number of variables and subject to change. Construction is expected to take about 12 months to complete.

2. Project details

2.1 Will the infrastructure be able to withstand extreme weather (cyclones, strong winds, etc)?

The facility will be designed in accordance with Australian standards for the construction of a small craft facility and on this basis will resist cyclone forces in accordance with its designated design life:

  • 50 years for the boat ramps, breakwaters and carpark
  • 25 years for the floating walkways.
2.2 How much parking will be provided as part of the project?

When building new boat ramps, TMR is obliged to provide adequate car and trailer parking facilities to accommodate demand.

The total number of parking spaces that will be made available is yet to be finalised, however, it will be enough to accommodate the number of effective lanes at this ramp, during periods of normal demand.

There will be some days where conditions are ideal and extremely high demand exceeds capacity – this is usual at most boat ramps in Queensland.

2.3 Will the proposed configuration of ramps and breakwaters create a silt trap?

The current layout of the ramp and breakwaters is conceptual and will be refined as planning and design progresses.

We will undertake further investigations, including detailed modelling, to determine how we can design the facility to minimise siltation.

2.4 What impacts will the facility have on the adjacent golf club?

The proposed access road and parking area are wholly located on vacant land, and will not impact any land currently being used by the HMBGC. No land will be resumed from the club to accommodate the new access road or car park.

The golf club currently has a license to occupy a portion of state-owned land outside its property boundary. This arrangement will not be affected by the new facility. We will take measures to prevent motorists driving onto the golf course from the new access road.

HMBGC has provided us with photos showing how the course floods during severe weather events, and we will carry out modelling to ensure the new development does not increase the risk or duration of flooding.

TMR understands the community importance of the club and will continue work closely with HMBGC to identify and address any concerns.

2.5 How will you stop golf balls being hit into the car park and access road?

TMR is working with HMBGC as planning progresses, and this is one of the risks we will be looking at very closely. TMR will seek input from HMBGC and recognised industry experts before making any decisions on a solution. Possible solutions include fencing and additional landscape planting.

2.6 What impact will the new ramp, car park and access road have on the adjacent natural environment?

TMR is aware of concerns about the potential impact on mangroves, coastal vegetation and waterways near the proposed project site. TMR is obliged to ensure that any construction conforms with environmental legislation. We will work closely with relevant environmental agencies to ensure that the works are carried out in a way which minimises impact on sensitive flora and fauna.

2.7 Will the facility cause flooding during extreme weather events?

No. As part of planning, we will undertake studies, including flood modelling, to ensure the development does not negatively impact local flooding.

2.8 Will the new breakwaters damage or undermine the existing marina walls?

No. TMR will work with YKBC and undertake engineering investigations to ensure construction of new infrastructure does not negatively impact existing structures, now or in the future.

2.9 Is TMR aware that the proposed site is on an approved emergency dredge spoil site?

Yes. However, CRC has confirmed that the site is rarely used. As planning progresses, TMR will work with CRC and YKBC to determine an alternative emergency spoil site.

2.10 Why don't you build the facility on vacant land at the end of Reed Road?

TMR is aware of some calls for the facility to be built on the western side of Half Moon Creek at Trinity Park, where there is a derelict boat ramp. TMR has undertaken an engineering assessment and found that there are multiple issues with the suggested site at Trinity Park, including higher upfront and ongoing costs, a more constrained coastal environment and more damaging environmental impacts.

Claims that a boat ramp could be built at this site without the need for dredging and without constructing new protective barriers are not accurate.

The land at Trinity Park is also privately owned, which means that the Queensland Government would need to acquire a large portion of the land, at a significant cost, before construction could commence. Claims that the property owner could be conditioned to provide the state government with a portion of land at no cost are not accurate.

The suggested site at Trinity Park is not a viable alternative location for the facility.

3. Consultation

3.1 What consultation has taken place to date?

In 2016, TMR received over 1000 responses to an online survey (hosted on the Queensland Government's 'Get Involved' website) about marine facilities, including a large number from the Cairns area. This feedback was incorporated into the Recreational Boating Facilities Demand Forecasting Study, which was finalised in late 2017.

The study confirmed that there is an urgent need for additional marine facilities in Cairns to cater for current and future demand, particularly in the northern beaches.

In 2016, TMR officers worked closely with elected representatives, CRC, CAREFISH and local boaties to identify a potential location for new recreational boat launching facilities in Cairns. The Reference Group was active between April 2016 and September 2016, and discussed a number of potential locations between Cairns and Ellis Beach. As part of these investigations, officers from TMR and CRC undertook joint inspections of potential sites.

After an initial meetings with representatives from YKBC and HMBGC, the Reference Group recommended the vacant land at Yorkeys Knob as the most suitable location to carry out further investigations.

Throughout 2017, TMR worked closely with YKBC to assess the feasibility of constructing new ramps inside the existing harbour walls. TMR presented two design options, incorporating feedback from YKBC members about the first concept into the second design.

TMR also received a list of concerns from the Yorkeys Knob Residents Association, The group stated an 'undeniable fact' that more boat ramp infrastructure was needed in the area, but raised a number of concerns about building more ramps inside the existing marina.

TMR listened to feedback from YKBC and local residents, and in late 2017, announced that it would not progress any further planning into an in-marina solution. TMR has had preliminary discussions with Ports North and environmental agencies.

In June 2018, TMR met with YKBC, HMBGC, CRC and CAREFISH to provide an update on the project, and discuss the new concept in further detail.

3.2 What factors did TMR consider when choosing the proposed location?

The development of a boat ramp facility in TMR's preferred location will be a significant and complex project.

The site ensures protection during prevailing weather conditions and during storm events, and will not impact on flooding in Half Moon Creek.

Construction of the existing marina has significantly and irreversibly changed coastal processes at the mouth of Half Moon Creek. Construction of boat ramps at TMR's preferred location will not negatively impact adjacent coastal processes, as the existing marina has already made those changes.

The volume of capital dredging will be relatively small, when considered against other dredging activities in the immediate area.

We will undertake further investigations, including detailed modelling, to determine how we can design the facility to minimise siltation.

Previous research by TMR coastal engineers suggests that the hardening of the southern bank of Half Moon Creek, proposed as part of the project, may actually improve conditions at the creek entrance. However, detailed modelling works are required to assess all potential impacts to define a final proposal.

3.3 What can the community have a say on at this point in the project?

Although the location of the project has been decided, we will be seeking input from local stakeholders during the planning phase to inform the scope of works and identify potential issues.

Please provide input on the following topics:
What can we do to ensure we deliver a functional boat ramp which meets the needs of local boaties?
How can we make sure construction of the facility does not negatively impact local amenity at Yorkeys Knob?
What local knowledge can you provide to help the project team progress planning?

3.4 How do I contact the project team?

To have your say or find out more about the project, please contact the project team via:
Phone: 4045 7115
Post: Department of Transport and Main Roads, PO Box 6185, Cairns QLD 4870

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