Tiwi’s run-down runway given a much-needed facelift

Tiwi Plane

A REMOTE Territory airstrip has been transformed from one of the worst surfaced runways in the nation to one of the best following the long-awaited resurfacing of the Wurrumiyanga Airstrip.

The $9 million project supported over 85 jobs in the Bathurst Island community of Wurrumiyanga, home to about 2000 Territorians.

Virgil Kerinainva was one of only five people from the remote community directly employed in the job, and was responsible for guarding the airstrip while workers carried out maintenance in the dark.

“It makes me proud,” he said.

“To help out with them, after they asked me.

“The old one was no good, a lot of potholes, but now this one it looks good.”

Fulton Hogan project manager Michael Thompson the runway was an important bit of infrastructure for the community, as it connected the island with the mainland.

“It’s really their lifeline,” he said.

Mr Thompson said the old runway was in poor condition.

“It was probably one of the worst runways I’ve seen in Australia in my time of resurfacing runways — now I’d say it was one of the best.”

Tiwi Islander and Assistant Minister for Remote Health Delivery and Homelands Lawrence Costa opened the airstrip Monday morning.

Mr Costa welcomed the renovation, which he said would encourage more people to visit the Tiwi Islands.

“It will help the community immensely with regards to more and more people flying in — we can get more and more planes coming in, and more people coming to support local businesses,” he said.

“Projects like this deliver better services for locals and visitors, and will create more opportunities for Tiwi Islanders, now and into the future.”

Mr Costa said the NT Government worked closely with Traditional Owners and the Tiwi Land Council on the project.

The project was jointly funded by the Australian and NT Governments.

Wurrumiyanga Airstrip is the largest airstrip on Bathurst Island.

Despite the project’s hefty price tag, there were no additional new parking spots for planes.