Far North Queensland recovery works forge ahead

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development The Honourable Lance McCallum


  • Captain Cook Highway will reopen between Ellis Beach and Port Douglas on Saturday 20 January 2024 at 8 am.
  • There will be several single lane sections that are open that will remain under traffic control.
  • Construction of a temporary single lane on the Palmerston Highway began this week, between Crawfords Lookout and Junction Road, to accommodate heavy vehicles.

Following a dedicated focus and significant effort from Department of Transport and Main Roads crews over the Christmas and New Year period, the Captain Cook Highway will reopen between Ellis Beach and Port Douglas on Saturday 20 January at 8am, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Single lane closures however should be expected for an initial time period. Motorists should expect delays and plan their journey.

To assist crews working on this part of the highway it is important that only essential travel is undertaken along this route.

Construction of a temporary single-lane section began this week on the Palmerston Highway between Crawford’s Lookout and Junction Road.

This temporary single lane will accommodate heavy vehicles.

Quotes attributable to the Transport and Main Roads Minister and Digital Services Minister Bart Mellish:

“Following a massive effort from our crews over the Christmas and New Year period the Captain Cook Highway between Ellis Beach and Port Douglas will open at 8 am on Saturday 20 January 2024.

“Approximately 30,000 tonnes of mud and debris have been removed from the road.

“There are over 15 trucks and heavy vehicles working on the site making about 100 trips each day to dispose of the debris.

“We have approximately 100 personnel and 65 pieces of machinery on site, including personnel from 10 local civil and construction companies.

“The Palmerston Highway suffered significant damage with major pavement slips occurring. This will unfortunately mean unavoidable long-term closures of this road to enable significant repairs.

“We understand the significant impact this is having on heavy vehicle operators and the agricultural industry, so in addition to providing temporary permits for an alternative route we are fast-tracking work to restore access on Palmerston Highway.

“Construction of a temporary single lane section has commenced on the Palmerston between Crawfords Lookout and Junction Road and will accommodate heavy vehicles.

“The single lane will be open to traffic in mid-February, weather and site conditions in coming weeks permitting.

“TMR is continuing to investigate long-term solutions for repairs to Palmerston Highway.

“Assistance will be provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA)”

Quotes attributable to Barron River MP Craig Crawford:

“Crews have performed a herculean task to clear the Captain Cook Highway.

“Everyone appreciates their efforts.

“The re-opening of the Captain Cook Highway to Port Douglas, and construction of a single lane along the Palmerston Highway are significant steps in reconnecting our freight and tourism industries.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Cook Cynthia Lui:

“The extent of the damage on our roads, and the sheer volume of work that has already been done by crews is phenomenal.”

“As well as addressing these big challenges on the roads themselves, the crews in the TMR offices are working with affected residents, groups and businesses to facilitate access to difficult areas so that people can maintain their businesses, survey damage, and plan for the future.”

“The Captain Cook Highway and Palmerston Highway are such important ‘arteries’ for people, businesses, agriculture and tourism in the Far North and huge efforts are going into re-opening access safely as soon as we can.”

/Public Release. View in full here.