The Challenge

foreshore worksForeshore Works on the Cairns Storm Drain Archaeological Monitoring ProjectIn October 2011 Cairns Regional Council began construction of a storm water drain known as the Abbott St and Wharf St storm water drain project. In part this comprised the installation of a storm water drain in the Wharf Street area with an outlet into Trinity Inlet on the northern side of the Trinity Wharf area.

Parallel with these works, Ports North began foreshore works in the area of the stormwater drain and to the north of these works in the area of the current Trinity Bay foreshore. Parts of these areas co-join the Queensland Heritage Listed Cairns Wharf Complex (ID 601790).

Approval for the works included a condition that ground disturbing activities in the area co-joining the Cairns Wharf Complex be monitored by a suitably qualified archaeologist.

The Project

Cairns Regional Council and Ports North jointly appointed Converge to undertake the required archaeological monitoring in the area.

Storm drain trenching on average was 5m deep with average width of 3.5m, although problems with subsidence and water ingress resulted in this width being exceeded in parts. A larger inspection pit was also built within the area. Waterfront works comprised the extension of the storm water drain into Trinity Inlet and the installation of a new sea wall.

Works uncovered various posts and beams associated with wharf developments, a section of railway and workshop associated with the Cairns Wharf Complex, and the remains of a slipway constructed on the site during World War II by the RAAF.

In order to meet project requirements Converge:

  • Conducted a start up toolbox talk with staff to inform them of their responsibilities in relation to historic cultural heritage and procedures to be undertaken when historic material was located
  • Undertook archaeological monitoring
  • Liaised with DEHP in relation to the discovery of the slipway and railway section
  • Undertook required mitigation of archaeological material found, including identification, recording and preliminary assessment of significance;
  • Undertook historic research to establish the provenance and significance of the slipway discovered during excavations; and,
  • Prepared a completion report for submission to DEHP (current report).

The Outcome

The storm water drain was completed in early 2012. The discovery of significant archaeological material has been managed in a timely manner which enabled work to be completed without significant delay whilst ensuring that the cultural heritage values of the place were mitigated and that a record of the discoveries would be available into the future.

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