Cairns Shipping Development


The Cairns Shipping Development Project (CSDP) is a critical enabler of tourism, trade and defence for the region. The CSDP aims to develop port infrastructure to secure a greater share of the lucrative international cruise ship market, enhance naval capacity and improve port efficiencies.

Cruise shipping has grown significantly in Australia in recent years both in frequency of activity and size of vessels. The CSDP will improve port infrastructure including channel capacity to support and grow the cruise ship industry including the lucrative international market and enable growth for HMAS Cairns with significant benefits to the local economy and the Queensland cruise industry.

The CSDP will provide significant economic benefits delivering more than $848.6M to the region and generating around 800 new direct and indirect jobs during construction and more than 2,730 on completion.

Ports North is a Queensland Government owned corporation responsible for the development and management of the declared Port of Cairns and the delivery of the Cairns Shipping Development Project.


The major components of the project include:

  • Dredging and wharf construction.
  • Widening, deepening and lengthening the existing outer shipping channel; the current 90m channel will be widened to 130m and the declared depth will be increased from 8.3m to 8.8m (July 2017).
  • Widening and deepening the existing inner harbour channel.
  • Widening the existing Crystal Swing Basin.
  • Establishing a new shipping swing basin (Smith’s Creek Swing Basin) to enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns.

Ports North have completed a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Project which was accepted in December 2017 as the final EIS for assessment by the Queensland Co-ordinator General.

The Co-ordinator General will now review the EIS and prepare an evaluation report in relation to the granting of environmental approval for the project to proceed. Building Queensland is completing a detailed business case for the project.

The next phase of the project will include detailed planning associated with the delivery of the Project including funding, detailed design, approvals and construction.

Land-side construction would take approximately one year and dredging and marine placement would take a minimum of 23 weeks subject to the final option, dredge windows and methodology and Government legislative changes.

Approximate cost of $120 million for 1 million cubic metres of capital dredge volume to be placed on land.


Port of Cairns.

Current limitations in port infrastructure and channel capacity are limiting trade, the growth of Cairns’ cruise ship industry and the expansion of HMAS Cairns.


Prioritise Cairns Port infrastructure as a strategic investment in the regional economy enabling long-term sustained growth for tourism, Navy, port and service industries. Commit to this $1billion industry by supporting Ports North in the delivery of the Cairns Shipping Development Project.


CEO, Advance Cairns Ph: 07 4080 2900


PROPONENT: Advance Cairns, Ports North
PRIORITY: Infrastructure
STATE ELECTORATES: Cairns, Barron River, Mulgrave
FEDERAL ELECTORATE: Leichhardt, Kennedy