288 Days in Fitzroy

Reconnecting the Kimberley in the wake of ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie will arguably go down as one of Main Roads greatest achievements.

Published: 14 February 2024, Updated: 15 February 2024

The Cyclone caused extensive flooding throughout the Kimberley Region in December 2022 and January 2023 resulting in significant damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges, cutting off access to communities and causing disruptions to locals, tourists and the transport and freight industries.

Several sections of Great Northern Highway between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing in the East Kimberley were completely washed away and the Fitzroy River Bridge at Fitzroy Crossing damaged beyond repair in the 1 in 100-year flood event.

In the months that followed, the Kimberley Region worked tirelessly with Government Agencies, Local Government Authorities, Traditional Owners and other key stakeholders to restore temporary access on GNH at Willare and Fitzroy River, and help reconnect the Kimberley Region. This included:

  • At Willare, significant temporary repairs on GNH, including construction of a gravel access road to reinstate access across the Fitzroy River floodplain.
  • The implementation of a pedestrian/4WD ferry service across Fitzroy River, which completed 15,000 passenger movements during its six-week operation and
  • Construction of two, temporary low-level crossings to enable access for light and heavy vehicles across the river, and reconnecting East and West Kimberley.

Concurrently, Main Roads committed to an ambitious program to re-establish permanent connectivity across the Fitzroy River in the shortest possible timeframe, through construction of a new Fitzroy River Bridge.

The New Fitzroy River Bridge was officially opened to traffic on 10 December 2023, more than six months ahead of schedule. Delivered by the Fitzroy Bridge Alliance (comprised of Main Roads, Georgiou Group Pty Ltd, BMD Construction Pty Ltd and BG&E), the new bridge is six times stronger than the old bridge and it contains twice the number of steel and concrete piles, driven twice as deep into the riverbed.

The completion of the bridge marked the official reconnection of the East and West Kimberley and, the remarkable achievement has now been captured in Main Roads’ latest video.

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The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

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