Betterment keeps Mapoon connected and safe

The small, vibrant Aboriginal Community of Mapoon is located in the remote, tropical Western Cape York in Far North Queensland. Mapoon is connected to the nearest town of Weipa and the important Peninsula Development Road via the Weipa-Mapoon access road.

Following an upgrade to a sealed bitumen road in 2014, this vital link now gives Mapoon residents and businesses safe and reliable passage to Weipa and essential goods and services. 

Before its upgrade, the road was an unsealed gravel road and intense rainfall and run-off during Tropical Cyclones Olga, Neville, Ului and Paul extensively damaged the road in 2010. It was reformed and re-sheeted with works totalling approximately $650,000.

In 2013, the road was impacted again as a result of Tropical Cyclone Oswald, with damage including loss of gravel and formation worth more than $940,000. In addition to these disaster events, the road surface and shoulders suffered heavy scouring even in minor storms.

The cost of repairing the regular damage caused by cyclones and the wet season was not providing value for money and Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council, with the support of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, made a successful submission for Betterment funding under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), receiving more than $970,000 to upgrade the road to a stronger, more disaster-resilient standard. 

The betterment project commenced in November 2013.

One lane remained open for residents during the upgrade and side tracks were also installed, ensuring residents did not lose access during the construction period.

The proposed betterment works included an eight-meter wide, two-coat bitumen seal to almost eight kilometres of Weipa-Mapoon Access Road. Some sections of the road had already been sealed and had proven to be more resilient during flooding.

The construction was not without its challenges as the remote location proved challenging for access to materials as well as experienced road crews. The newly upgraded, stronger road was completed in November 2014.

Since its completion, the upgraded road has already proved to be more disaster-resilient; it was impacted by Tropical Cyclone Marcia in 2015, with no damage to the betterment works, resulting in avoided costs of an estimated $940,000.

Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Aileen Addo said the community was enjoying the smooth ride and uninterrupted access the bitumen road was providing.

“We are glad to have the road upgraded to provide safe, consistent access to Weipa for the people of Mapoon,” Cr Addo said.

“Betterment funding is a great initiative, which has enabled us to upgrade the road making it stronger and more resilient to the extreme weather our unique part of the world experiences.”

Cr Addo said the value for money the upgrade provided was outstanding.

“We are glad to see the upgraded road has already shown savings following the 2015 event.”