THE Cruise Whitsundays maritime terminal is a major component of the all-encompassing Whitsunday transit hub, consisting of a bus and taxi terminal, public fuel wharf and 176-space carpark at Port of Airlie.
Port of Airlie general manager, Andrew Forster, said the two developments complimented each other and were playing a vital role in cementing Airlie Beach as a destination rather than just a gateway to the Whitsunday islands and reef.
“For years and years I really do think we were always treated as a gateway and I do believe that having the Cruise Whitsundays facility here now gives another massive tick to Airlie being a destination,” he said.
“Now more people can come and stay on the mainland and enjoy all of the restaurants and shops and facilities and activities, not just within the Port of Airlie, and if they want to visit the islands they can jump on a ferry here instead of doing it in reverse – going to the islands and visiting Airlie Beach.”
Having been involved with the Port of Airlie project “from the start of breaking ground or before”, during periods of receivership when the future looked bleak, Mr Forster said he was filled with an enormous amount of pride “that we made it happen”.
“There was a period there where the whole world was going to pot with the GFC, but with a very, very, good support network, with funders, managers and a very tight-knit group of people, I think we’ve pulled this particular major development up by its boot straps and made it work again,” he said.
Cruise Whitsundays appointed GMP – the project managers for the overall Port of Airlie development – to manage the terminal construction.
MTM executive director Peter Murphy said the entire construction team, from planning to project delivery, had been exceptional and made an outstanding contribution to the co-ordination and control of the project.
He said the outcome was a fully integrated intermodal transport facility to benefit the entire community, with positive feedback delivered already.
“We’ve had people walking to the front door saying ‘wow – this is really lifting Airlie Beach’,” he said.
“This [terminal] is important to us, but we’re just a cog in the community here – this is a community facility at the end of the day and one that they can be proud of the same way we can.”
Mr Forster agreed.
“Airlie Beach has been revitalised – it looks brilliant – the main street, the airport and now this,” he said.
“And Port of Airlie is really now where it deserves to be, which is the forefront development in this town.”