Motel to benefit from Palm Island funding

Palm Island’s only motel is to get a major expansion thanks to a state government grant of more than $1 million.

Strife-torn Palm Island (Bwgcolman to the indigenous people), near Townsville in north Queensland, has become a focus of tourism industry attention since Queensland premier Campbell Newman ordered cabinet to help make the infamous riot township into a popular tourist destination. The decision was prompted following Mr Newman’s five-hour tour of the island in February.

Palm Island Motel, owned and operated by the Palm Island Council, will more than double in size from 13 rooms to 23.

The Palm Island council will put forward around $300,000 for the project.

Townsville MP John Hathaway says, “This infrastructure will go a long way in giving Palm Island the opportunity for future economic development.”

Palm Island mayor Alf Lacey says he hopes the island’s only motel will soon be privately owned, “We’d probably gauge the community and put an expression of interest out in terms of someone eventually in the town taking it on.”

Home to a 2000-strong Aboriginal population, the former mission is notorious for the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee and mob riots in 2004.

The Queensland government recently approved $1.2 million in funding for a new ferry landing and earmarked for another $1.7 million to build a retail precinct, cultural zone, foreshore upgrade and eco-tourism development.

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