Sky’s the limit with helicopter contract

Two world-leading marine pilot transfer helicopters are currently under construction at Mackay airport, as they are readied for service at North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP).

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Airbus helicopters were being commissioned after NQBP’s decision to award a contract for the supply of marine helicopter pilot transfer services to local company Mackay Helicopters.

“The NQBP ports of Hay Point and Mackay are two of Queensland most significant economic assets so it’s absolutely essential that and safe and efficient pilotage is essential for their success,” Mr Pitt said.

“The delivery of these aircraft to Mackay Helicopters as part of the new contract is a real boost for a local company, and for the marine pilots who ensure ships safely and efficiently use our ports.

“I can’t wait to see NQBP’s brand new helicopters constructed and helping to guide Queensland trade from the skies.”

Ports Minister Mark Bailey said the helicopter contract was part of a joint tender process run by NQBP and Gladstone Ports Corporation.

“I was particularly pleased that two major Queensland government owned corporations could work together through a robust, competitive tender process,” Mr Bailey said.

“By working together, the decision to place both marine pilot transfer services to market as one parcel of work has helped to achieve the best value for both NQBP and GPC.”

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said the Airbus helicopters being commissioned for NQBP are renowned worldwide for their safety and versatility, and are well suited for the transfer of marine pilots on and off ships.

“Over the course of the next few weeks, Mackay Helicopter pilots, who fly on behalf of the Ports, will receive specialist training and simulation,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“The new aircraft for NQBP’s use, will be based at the Port of Hay Point helipad and is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

NQBP Chief Executive Officer, Steve Lewis said helicopters have long been used by ports as the most safe and efficient mode of transport for transferring marine pilots to vessels.

“Helicopters allow port operations to run smoothly, because they can be operated in a wide range of conditions.

“They provide us with rapid response capabilities to any operational needs or in the unlikely event of an emergency”, Mr Lewis said.

Chief Executive Officer of Aviator Group, which operates Mackay Helicopters, Ian Vanderbeek said the new and improved helicopters are at the leading edge of safety standards.

“These new helicopters are the current generation of aircraft and will serve the ports well over the next five to eight years”.                                                               

“We are delighted to be continuing to provide this service to our port operators, who do a great job in ensuring the safe and efficient marine pilotage operation of our trade gateways”.

Mackay Junior Rugby League

Mackay junior rugby league players are invited to join North Queensland Toyota Cowboys greats Matthew Bowen and Brent Tate for a free training session on Thursday 20 April, thanks to North Queensland Bulk Ports community partnership.

The session is open to current JRL players of all ages in the Mackay region, with a focus on fun as participants work through a series of skills and drills stations.

The event is part of next week’s NQ Bulk Ports Blitz in Mackay, with the Cowboys community partner hosting ‘Mango’ and ‘Tatey’ for a series of community visits in the region.

Skills & drills with Brent Tate and Matthew Bowen!
Designed for ages 6-16 years

Date: Thursday 20 April, 4pm-5pm
Venue: Theo Hansen Park, Andergrove
Parking: Available via Beaconsfield Road
Who’s invited: All current JRL players (6-16 years) signed up with a club in the Mackay region
Cost: Free!

What to bring:
• Enclosed shoes
• Sun-safe clothing
• Hat
• Sunscreen
• Water bottle

Renee Knust, NRL Game Development Officer
0417 068 132 |

Bowen Jetty back in business

As North Queensland rebuilds after Tropical Cyclone Debbie, another much-loved piece of Bowen’s history has been re-opened to the public.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation’s iconic Bowen Jetty has been re-opened to the public today after sustaining damage to the electrics and timber structure during the storm.

NQBP Chief Executive Officer Steve Lewis said it is great to see the Bowen Jetty, which this year turns 150 years old, opened once again to the public.

“The re-opening of the Bowen Jetty means all NQBP assets across our northern ports have returned to regular operations,” Mr Lewis said.

“Not only is the Bowen Jetty popular with the Bowen community and tourists, it also serves an operational purpose as the home base for the tug operations used at the Port of Abbot Point.

“It is an important piece of infrastructure for NQBP and it is a credit to our maintenance and engineering teams the jetty was able to be re-opened to the public so soon after the destructive cyclone.”

The re-opening also means keen photographers can get back out on the jetty to get their entries into #BowenJetty150 – NQBP’s photography competition celebrating the milestone birthday.

Mr Lewis said he was also pleased to provide an update on the recovery efforts across NQBP’s east coast ports.

“I’m happy to note all our east coast ports – Hay Point, Mackay and Abbot Point – are open for shipping,” he said.

“Mackay and Hay Point are trading, while the Abbot Point terminal’s owner and operator, Adani, will make the decision as to when operations recommence.”

Letter to the Editor: Mackay Marina and Cyclone Debbie

I was concerned to read your article Damage to Mackay Marina was preventable: manager (10.04.2017, Page 6) in which you stated that North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) did not comment about a proposal for a “nib wall”.

NQBP takes this issue seriously, and provided a detailed response to your reporter via email on Tuesday 4 April, in which we explicitly responded to the suggestions of a “nib wall” at the Mackay Marina.

For the benefit of your readers, and in particular the marina tenants at the facility, it is important that the full story in regard to this issue is presented.

First and foremost, the marina development is privately owned and operated by Port Binnli Group, and responsibility ultimately rests with the development company.

It is also the case that the northerly swell conditions that developed after the centre of TC Debbie passed have been recognised for some considerable time since the development of the Mackay Marina Village Project by Port Binnli in the late 1990s.

In a positive contribution, NQBP has recently spent $24 million upgrading the Southern Breakwater along the Marina section, and it was pleasing to see that the Breakwater held up well in its first big test of extreme weather, with direct benefit to the Marina development.

While NQBP does not have any direct responsibility for works or infrastructure associated with the marina developed by Port Binnli, it has continued to engage with Port Binnli on the “northerly fetch” issue over a number of years, to assist Port Binnli to identify a viable means of mitigating the impact of the northerly fetch.

The difficulty with the “nib wall” suggestion is that NQBP modelling shows it would unacceptably affect wave movement and operations within the main port area, without adequately mitigating the problem in the marina basin itself.

Please be assured we will continue to work with Port Binnli to find the best option and how it may be implemented.

However, it is important to reiterate that as the marina owner, Port Binnli is the responsible party, and any agreed solution would need to be privately funded.

While it was disappointing to see the careless reporting of this important issue in yesterday’s paper, I hope this letter is able to provide greater context for your readers.

Steve Lewis
Chief Executive Officer

All hands on deck at critical Northern Ports

A week after weathering the impact of severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie, significant progress has been made on returning the critical northern ports of Abbot Point, Mackay and Hay Point to full operations.

Ports Minister Mark Bailey visited Port of Mackay today with Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert who thanks port works who had been working tirelessly across the three ports.

“As you would expect, there has been damage from debris and flooding in the ports,” Mr Bailey said.

“But I am extremely impressed with the way NQBP has been working closely with port terminal operators, tenants and service providers to work towards the resumption of safe port operations.”

Read the full press release.


NQBP Ports weather the storm

Point have emerged in good condition in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Safety first at NQBP ports

NORTH Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) said the Ports of Abbot Point, Hay Point and Mackay remain closed today as severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie lashes the North Queensland coast.

NQBP Chief Executive Officer Steve Lewis said the corporation’s Whitsunday ports have all been experiencing large swells, high winds and heavy rains.

“Like other north Queenslanders, we have been feeling the full impact if TC Debbie throughout the day,” Mr Lewis said.

“The slow moving system will no doubt have had some impact on our assets, but it has not been possible to safely carry out any inspections given the persistent extreme weather conditions in the region.

“However the port’s emergency response team is on standby to carry out landside inspections of infrastructure such as the Southern Breakwater at the Port of Mackay as soon as possible in the morning.

Mr Lewis said NQBP is working closely with port partners and emergency services to secure the port and begin planning for the resumption of safe port operations.

“In addition to landside inspections, a survey of seabed assets such as navigational channels and berth pockets must be carried out to the satisfaction of the Harbour Master and our own expert marine pilots before ports can re-open for shipping.”

Mr Lewis said safety continued to be the port corporation’s top priority in responding to the extreme weather event.

“I would like to remind the community to stay off the Southern Breakwater (the rockwall) at the Port of Mackay, as well as other areas near the Ports which are currently restricted,” Mr Lewis said.

“Unbelievably, we have reports that some people are trying to access the Southern Breakwater even during today’s extreme weather.

“This is simply not in the interests of people’s own safety, or that of emergency service personnel.”

Further updates will be provided through the NQBP social media channels as it becomes available.


North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation contact:
Fiona Cunningham | Senior Advisor Corporate Communications
07 3011 7915 |

NQBP ports prepared for Tropical Cyclone Debbie

NORTH Queensland Bulk Ports said today the ports of Abbot Point, Mackay and Hay Point have been locked down in preparation for Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

NQBP Chief Executive Officer Steve Lewis said safety is the top priority for the corporation and its port partners.

“Like everyone in the region, NQBP is bracing for the impact of the severe weather associated with TropicalCyclone Debbie,” Mr Lewis said.

“Given the location of NQBP’s ports in northern Australia, we have comprehensive and well-tested cyclone preparedness plans in place.

“Our cyclone readiness plans have been put into action over recent days, in partnership with our tenants and customers.

“NQBP is also working hand in hand with emergency services, the Queensland Government and Maritime Safety Queensland.

“Across our ports, critical assets and infrastructure such as tugs, wharfs and stockpile equipment have been tied down and secured.

“As always, our top priority is the safety of our employees and the community.”

The ports of Mackay, Hay Point and Abbot Point were closed on 26 March 2017, under direction from the Regional Harbour Master.

The ports will remain closed until further notice, and will only re-open when it is safe to do so.

Mr Lewis said the Port of Mackay’s Southern Breakwater has also been closed to traffic and pedestrians.

“With the high winds, waves and storm surges associated with cyclones, the Southern Breakwater at the Port of Mackay is strictly off limits,” Mr Lewis said.

“Unfortunately, we are still seeing some people trying to access the Southern Breakwater. This is simply not in the interests of people’s own safety, or that of our emergency service personnel.”

Mr Lewis said NQBP’s Port of Mackay employees have been sent home today. Tenants at the Port of Mackay have also left the port precinct, with port security measures in place.

NQBP will work with port users and emergency services to ensure safe port operations can resume as soon as possible.

Further updates will be provided through the NQBP social media channels as it becomes available.

However please note further updates are not expected until after the cyclone has made landfall.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation contact:
Fiona Cunningham | Senior Advisor Corporate Communications
07 3011 7915 | 0426 249 577 |

Photo competition celebrates history and beauty of the Bowen Jetty

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) today launched a photographic competition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the iconic Bowen Jetty.

NQBP Chief Executive Officer Steve Lewis said the Bowen Jetty is one of the region’s best known and most loved structures.

“I am delighted to announce the NQBP #BowenJetty150 Photography Competition as a way of joining with the community to celebrate this significant milestone,” Mr Lewis said.

“With its magnificent central location, the Bowen Jetty is a magnet for social media snappers and dedicated photographers alike.”

Mr Lewis said NQBP, as the port authority for the Port of Abbot Point, has a long association with the Bowen Jetty and its wharves.

“While its role has changed significantly over the years, the facility still plays an operational role with the port to this day as the base for the Bowen Towage Services tugs that service the Abbot Point terminal,” Mr Lewis said.

“I encourage everyone to enter the NQBP #BowenJetty150 Photography Competition, and help acknowledge and celebrate the structure’s significant history and beauty.”

Bowen Independent Manager Stephen Darwen said the competition will be run in conjunction with the Bowen Independent and is open to everyone.

“I’d like to thank NQBP for running this competition, and we are delighted to get behind this great idea to celebrate this milestone,” Mr Darwen said.

“The community feels a real connection to the Bowen Jetty, and it’s also a popular stop for visitors to the region as well.”

“Throughout the competition, a selection of the best photos will be featured in the Bowen Independent as well as by NQBP on social media via #BowenJetty150,” Mr Darwen said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the fantastic images submitted during the next two months.”

Photographers have a number of ways to enter:

  • Email your photo to the Bowen Independent (,
  • Submit via social media network Instagram using the hashtag #BowenJetty150 and tagging @NQBPC; or
  • Drop in a hard copy to the Bowen Independent office at 28 George Street, Bowen.

The #BowenJetty150 Photography Competition will feature a first prize of $1000, a people’s choice award voted through social media of $500 and individual prizes of $250 for each of the following categories:

  • Community, Innovation, Sustainability and History.

The judging panel will include a representative from both Bowen Independent and NQBP as well as a community representative.

NQBP will also partner with the Bowen Independent to produce a collector’s edition photo book, which will be compiled at the end of the competition. The photo book will be sold for a nominal price, with proceeds raised to be donated to a local charity or community group.

The #BowenJetty150 Photo Competition closes on May 15, 2017.


Competition Rules:

1. Submitted in JPG/NQBP social media

1a. Email high resolution JPEG submissions to:

1b. Bring in hard copy photos for scanning to the Bowen Independent

1c. Submit by tagging @nqbpc or using hashtag #bowenjetty150 on Instagram

1d. If submitting via social media, it must be a public profile

1e. Hashtag the category of photo (eg #innovation)

2. Rights to photo shared by Bowen Independent and NQBP to be re-used across various mediums

3. Submit to newspaper with date of photo, photographer’s name, contact details (address will not be published, but could be used to contact photographer) and what category they want the photo to be considered under (community, innovation, sustainability, history).

3a. If no theme is determined by photographer, it will be determined by judging panel.