Ports North has unveiled its long-awaited master plan for future development of facilities and land at the ports of Cairns and Mourilyan.

The 30-year two port master plan is a key step in creating new opportunities for the port of Cairns, including expansion of the Cairns Marine Precinct.

It also identifies growth in sugar and molasses at Mourilyan, along with opportunities for additional magnetite, silica sands, and fuel.


Ports North CEO, Chris Boland, said the plan is a milestone for the organisation and the region.


The plan is based on consultation with industry, community, local businesses, and governments conducted over the past 18 months.

It prioritises sustainable growth and seeks to balance the competing needs of the wide variety of users, operators, and stakeholders at both ports.

It proposes a significant expansion of the Cairns Marina to increase space for super yachts and the reef fleet.

The cruise terminal would be expanded and there would be further development of the Cityport precinct east of the Cairns CBD.

There is scope for significant expansion of the naval base, HMAS Cairns, and of the Cairns Marine Precinct.

The Queensland Government has promised $150 million for the Marine Precinct expansion, but it will need Federal funds to get the project completed.

It’s hoped the release of the plan will help unlock that support.

Liberal member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, said in May he could not support it until he’d seen a business case and the master plan.

The plan calls for continued maintenance dredging at Cairns and improved heavy vehicle access from the south along Draper and Dutton streets.

It says improved road connectivity is needed for heavy vehicles going north to the airport or Mossman Mill and calls for additional rail depots and sidings alongside Ray Jones Drive.

A freight hub would be needed in the area from Innisfail to Mourilyan, along with a road bypass around South Johnstone and significant upgrades of the Palmerston Highway.

In Mourilyan, the plan calls for the wharf to be extended and the cargo area to be expanded to cope with projected growth in sugar and molasses.

It also identifies opportunities for additional magnetite, silica sands, and fuel to move through the port.

Advance Cairns executive chairman, Nick Trompf, said the plan is one of the region’s most significant strategic documents.


 ”The plan is the result of several years of work in consultation with industry, port stakeholders and government, to identify predicted growth and the capacity of the two ports to meet the expected increase in demand.”



Main points

  • The plan identifies significant growth opportunities
  • It calls for transport upgrades at Cairns and Mourilyan
  • It's hoped the plan will unlock Federal funds for the Cairns Marine Precinct
It outlines development and growth options that allow each port to maximise its potential in harmony with the other, and with broader regional conditions.
Chris Boland
Ports North CEO
It has identified a series of significant growth opportunities at the two major seaports in the Cairns area.
Nick Trompf
Advance Cairns