Skip to main content

Shipping tours floated for Top End communities

05 August 2014

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles aboard a Sea Swift vessel similar to the one that will carry tourists to the northern caost of Arnhem Land. NT Chief Minister Adam Giles aboard a Sea Swift vessel similar to the one that will carry tourists to the northern caost of Arnhem Land.

Visitors will soon be able to cruise from Darwin to Nhulunbuy (Gove), via Arnhem Land’s remote coastal communities, on board a working cargo ship as part of a unique new tourism venture being supported by the Territory Government.

Freight company Sea Swift has secured a $100,000 grant from the NT Government to help start the cargo tours, as part of a $1.3 million pool of NT and Federal funding for tourism development and infrastructure.

The new Sea Swift Cargo tours are set to begin in October this year with a guide and passengers on board. It will stop off at Galiwinku on Elcho Island on the return leg back to Darwin from Nhulunbuy.

Chief Minister Adam Giles said it was an example of the kind of projects the Territory Government would support to build sustainable economic activity in the region.

“This new venture opens the door to a totally new mode of tourist arrivals to Gove and I’m excited about the opportunities it presents for local businesses,” he said.

“The weekly tours will encourage tourists to spend considerable more time on the ground exploring East Arnhem which will help increase local expenditure through visitor accommodation, food and beverage sales, tours, activities, and retail purchases.

“Sea Swift will also be directly working with Traditional Owners to share their stories on the tours as well as engaging local tour operators in Gove to promote their businesses to passengers including fishing trips, bush tours, art centres and retail stores.

“Expanding these new local tourism opportunities will help sustain the economy of Gove in the long-term and create jobs, once the Refinery has wound down.”

Sea Swift will use the $100,000 grant from the Government in addition to $200,000 of its own money to refit an existing cargo vessel, the ‘Malu Trader’ to accommodate passengers.

The new cruise cargo vessel will be based out of Darwin’s East Arm port.

The service will be modelled on Sea Swift’s popular Trinity Bay Passenger tour in Cairns, which has been operating successfully for more than 20 years.

“Passengers can take their cars on the ship, which will be fitted out with ensuite cabins, a central common room where meals will be served and an outdoor deck area where tourists can relax, lounge and fish if they wish to while steaming between destinations,” Mr Giles said.

General Manager of Sea Swift Chris Sheppard said he was confident the new cruise service would be a great success.

“We receive numerous requests monthly enquiring if we’ve got a similar cruise to our Queensland service in the Northern Territory,” Mr Sheppard said.

“More than 22,000 travellers have been on a cruise with us in the 20 years we have been operating the tours in North Queensland and the vast majority love it.  There is nothing of a similar nature in the market place and its uniqueness is what drives people to tick it off their ‘bucket list’. 

“This is a long-term investment in the Northern Territory tourism industry and one we feel will greatly benefit the Gove community.”

The new Sea Swift cruise service will operate between Darwin-Nhulunbuy-Galiwinku and run weekly year round. 

It’s expected once refitted to be able to hold from 10-20 passengers.

Possible options that can be built into the service include:

· Fly to Nhulunbuy or Galiwinku and cruise back (or vice-versa)

· Drive to Nhulunbuy and cruise back (or vice-versa)

· Cruise Nhulunbuy-Galiwinku-Darwin return on single voyage

· Cruise Darwin-Nhulunbuy-Galiwinku return on single voyage

· Cruise Darwin to Nhulunbuy or Galiwinku & stay a week (or more) returning on next voyage.