Unlocking new Business Opportunities on Tiwi Islands

A brand new ferry, unlocking business opportunities on the Tiwi Islands, is now operational.

With no bridge across the Apsley Strait, the ferry will travel between Bathurst and Melville islands and will be an important asset in keeping the Tiwi Islands communities connected.

Funded by the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development through a $500,000 grant to the Tiwi Islands Regional Council, the ferry replaces an older, smaller model.

The 14.5 x 5.5 metre barge has been fabricated by Territory business, Custom Works NT at its Winnellie workshop in Darwin and comes with a custom-built trailer that will be stored at Wurrumiyanga.

The construction of the barge has supported seven jobs at Custom Works NT, including two apprentices who were brought on board especially for the project. However it’s the ongoing economic, cultural and social benefits for the Tiwi Islands that substantiates the Territory Labor Government’s investment.

This new and improved ferry transport unlocks new opportunities for the NT and the Tiwi Islands by:

  • Building an accessible link to country;
  • Creating business and tourism opportunities for the region; and
  • Enabling affordable transport for essential services such as plumbers, electricians and other locally based tradespeople across the Apsley Strait.

A local team of four qualified coxswains will operate the ferry during daylight hours on weekdays.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Tiwi Islands Regional Council Mayor, Leslie Tungutalum officially launched the new ferry, called Murantingala 1, today at a community celebration which included traditional dancers and singers.

As noted by Chief Minister Michael Gunner:

“The Territory Labor Government always looks at the best types of investments for our community.

“We are about creating ongoing local economic benefits and this is what the new Tiwi Barge will do. It will open up new economic opportunities such as tourism, and will allow for ongoing local jobs to be done in an easier manner, especially for essential services jobs like plumbers and electricians.

“Jobs will always come first under a Labor Government, because we know creating a strong economy comes from job lead measures, not cut-led measures like the CLP which failed to invest in the bush.”

As noted by Minister for Local Government, Housing and Community Development, Gerry McCarthy:

“This barge is a great example of the use of the Territory Labor Government’s Strategic Local Government Infrastructure Fund that offers regional and shire councils the opportunity to boost amenities and improve community development.

“In association with the Tiwi Islands Regional Council, we have been able to deliver a superb piece of Territory-built maritime infrastructure that underpins the local economic, social and cultural elements of Bathurst and Melville islands and will serve the communities for many years.”

As noted by Tiwi Islands Regional Council Mayor, Leslie Tungutalum:

“We’re all very proud of our new inter-island ferry which we have dedicated to the memory of our elders and their vision.

“We have named our new vessel Murantingala 1, meaning ‘Morning Star’.

“This is a very special symbolic sign, as culturally for us Tiwi people, the morning star is a compass that offers a pathway for us as a Tiwi nation, a way to move forward.”

As noted by Member for Arafura Lawrence Costa:

“This barge is going to make a big difference to the islands, and as local member I am very happy to see it officially open.

“It not only doubles the capacity of the number of vehicles that can be carried across the strait but more passengers can fit on as well.”

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