Conway Beach Seawall construction.
Conway Beach Seawall construction. Contributed

Millions of dollars of infrastructure upgrades complete

THE effects of Tropical Cyclone Debbie were felt throughout 36 council areas across Queensland in March 2017.

It's no secret the hardest-hit was the Whitsundays, and for the last two and a half years the region has been rebuilding.

The Whitsunday Regional Council has officially opened several major infrastructure reconstruction projects following the completion of more than $63.5 million of disaster relief works since Tropical Cyclone Debbie, works that include the new Conway Beach Seawall.

Twenty-four hours of continual waves destroyed the seawall.

Whitsunday Regional Council disaster recovery projects director Trevor Williams said the new wall had been designed to withstand increasing sea levels, and bigger storm systems and wave surges resulting from that.

From February to June, 30,000 tonnes of rock were moved to construct the new $1.8 million, 310m wall, which has been engineered to withstand a category 5 cyclone, and all that comes with it.

Reconstruction works have been jointly funded by the state and federal governments under the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements funding initiatives.

Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the completion of NDRRA works marked an important milestone for recovery across the region.

"The Whitsundays was one of the most severely impacted regions when Cyclone Debbie crossed the coast more than two years ago,” Mr Littleproud said.

"The official opening of the repaired infrastructure illustrates how far this community has come on their road to recovery after Cyclone Debbie.”

Mayor Andrew Willcox said more than $42 million of the disaster relief contracts went to local companies, and as a result 57 local contracts were awarded throughout the program.

"We have had this huge amount of work under way over the past two years and to see it conclude this year is tremendously exciting,” Cr Willcox said.

"I am so pleased we have been able to invest in our people by awarding tenders to local businesses and providing this opportunity to help our region recover.”

Assistant Minister for State Development, Julieanne Gilbert, said the reconstruction works included roads, bridges, seawalls and causeways that were vital to the region's economy and road network.

Queensland Reconstruction Authority CEO Brendan Moon with Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox at the Andromache Bridge opening.
Queensland Reconstruction Authority CEO Brendan Moon with Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox at the Andromache Bridge opening. Contriubuted

Ms Gilbert said the recently completed Conway Beach Seawall and Bowen Front Beach Seawall had transformed the foreshore areas, and most importantly, would help protect nearby homes against storm surges.

"Inverdon Bridge in Bowen and Andromache Bridge near Proserpine needed extensive repairs after the cyclone, with the original structures replaced by new concrete bridges built to the latest construction standards that will serve the community for many years to come,” she said.

Whitsunday Regional Council has an extension to June 30, 2020, to complete restoration works on Shute Harbour.