Blue skies greeted the Mornington Island visitors to Cairns today, some – their very first time on a plane.
Eight passengers arrived at the Cairns airport, overwhelmed at the generosity of ‘free’ flights from Bloomer Constructions.
Grateful Gununa local Jack Juhel Junior explained, “the fact this flight was free allowed many of us to take our first holiday off island.”
“I really hope that those who were in charge of this initiative know just how big a deal this is”.
Bloomer Constructions, currently working on a major housing project in the Wellelsey Island group, utilised a private charter plane to overcome the inaccessibility issues facing the region (*no seating available until May).
With their FIFO skilled personnel staying in the township to deliver the quality infrastructure – the successful business wanted to make use of their empty charter flight bound back to Cairns.
Mornington Shire Council CEO Frank Mills applauded the construction company for collaborating with Council, making good use of these “golden seats”.
“Such a worthy idea and collaboration that council hopes may become common practice, particularly when charters leave the region with only one or two government service providers.”
“I think, in the instance of this good news, Australians may also gain insight into the daily struggles and reality of public transport costs facing Mornington Island residents in Queensland’s scenic Gulf.”
“Essentially, transport costs are hurting isolated families here while ensuring a greater sense of connectivity (to the rest of Australia) is impossible to achieve.”
Respected Traditional Owner John Williams said he relies on his pension every fortnight to pay for food staples and medical expenses.
“This flight would have taken me over six months to save up for,” he stated – while his young son (first flight) was left amazed by the enormous trucks bustling past Cairns airport.
“Without this initiative from Mornington Shire Council and Bloomer Construction – there is no way I could ever bring my family out here to Cairns.”
The T.O. said he will spend some time in Cairns and take family to the lagoon, then up to Lake Tinaroo in the Tablelands before school starts back up.
“Residents in Mornington don’t have infrastructure or transport (support) like they do here in Cairns, so I will be taking my family to the lagoon – I am so thankful.”
Other passengers said the free flight provided opportunity to see family members they have not seen for a very long time.
And with Australia’s most famous airstrip now awaiting **desperate state or commonwealth funding estimated to be just over $8 million to fully upgrade the unsafe runway, public frustration builds while accessibility to the region fails and private charter costs (for service providers) begin to hit involved government agencies.
*At the time this release was constructed, extremely limited flights were available online from Mornington Island to Cairns or vice versa even throughout May 2016 – travelling on the only commercial carrier Regional Express (REX).
**Mornington Island Aerodrome has been closed to all commercial flights since December 2015. Upgrades must be carried out to allow the commercial carrier REX – contracted through TMR – to resume service to the Wellesley’s.