New Tiwi barge nears completion

A new inter island barge for the Tiwi Islands is expected to be operational by the new year.

The work has been more than 18 months in the making, after Tiwi Island Regional Council received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development in 2018 through its Strategic Local Government Infrastructure Fund program.

The grant provided funding to design and construct a new passenger and two-car ferry, with a purpose built trailer, to operate in the Aspley Strait to link Melville and Bathurst Islands which is vital for service delivery and everyday life on the Tiwi Islands.

The barge was tested this week in readiness for the official launch.

Boat builder Dale Smith from CustomWorks hosted the council during the testing stage.

“It’s a little bit bigger than what they expected, compared to what they’ve got now. Everyone was really, really happy,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to sending it across to the island and commissioning it sometime between now and new year and get everyone running across the Strait.

We’ll go over and help them, do some training and procedures and that, make sure everything is good – that will be a good experience,” he said.

Through the process, he’s been assisted by boat designer Damien Smith.

Damien also recently designed the barge for the Milingimbi rangers.

“This is very similar to the Milingimbi boat – it is a little bit shorter, but it is a refinement of that previous design.”

Much like Dale, now the barge has passed its testing, he is anticipating its launch on the Tiwi Islands.

“I design commercial boats, and when this goes to somewhere like the Tiwi Islands, it makes a real difference to the community, it makes things safer, it gives them more capacity, and that’s important to me.

If I can use my skills and abilities to play a small part in that, that’s awesome,” he said.

To find out more about Strategic Infrastructure Funds visit Strategic Local Government Infrastructure Fund.

New Tiwi barge nears completion
A new inter island barge for the Tiwi Islands is expected to be operational by the new year.

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