Services in the Daintree
To discourage settlement and keep population low, the Daintree
community is denied most of the basic services that the rest of
Australia, and even many Third World countries, take for granted.
And even the services that they do have are usually in a sad state,
or lacking in quality or reliability.
Cow Bay Clinic
The Cow Bay Clinic
The Cow Bay Clinic is the only medical facility in
the Daintree and gets visits from doctors once a week at the most
and other specialists only every couple of weeks.
The building does not meet the Queensland Health standards and has
been due for replacement a long time ago.
At one point this facility was the next one in line to be replaced
with a bigger and better facility but then the 2015 elections resulted
in a Queensland Labor Government and the funding allocated was switched
from the Daintree to Dimbulah which has more Labor voters.
In July 2018 the Douglas Shire Council forgot to get fuel delivered
to the clinic's diesel generator, it ran out of fuel, blew up the
inverter and the clinic was closed for half a week with no power
and all refrigerated medicines had to be thrown out.
Various planning schemes over the years discouraged the creation
of local employment opportunities to avoid population growth, so
this could mean the area would only be attractive to retirees. But
of course old people need doctors on a regular basis so it is believed
that the Conspiracy sabotages progress to a decent clinic to discourage
retirees boosting the Daintree population.
But even though there was no money for this clinic in the Daintree,
there was money for other places:
$16.5 million new Palm Island Primary Health Care Centre
$1 million in 2017-18 out of a $7 million total spend to replace
the Mer (Murray) Island Primary Health Care Centre to support
quality, safe services. Part of the Rural and Regional Infrastructure
$2.6 million in 2017-18 out of a $2.8 million total spend to construct
a replacement ambulance station and accommodation at Thursday Island.
$5.2 million in 2017-18 out of a $6.7 million total spend to refurbish
and extend the Aurukun Primary Health Centre facilities including
new staff accommodation, upgraded amenities, consultation rooms,
disabled access ramps and ambulance bay.
This is yet another basic service that the local council just can't
seem to organise.
In 2016 they did a survey on it which was designed to fail, they
asked residents if they would like one bin per week picked up. Most
people in the Daintree are environmentally aware and keep their
general rubbish and recycliing separated so this proposal was nonsense
as it means either putting all your recycling in landfill or paying
for one bin to be picked up and still having to make the long drive
to the dump to get rid of your recycling.
For Cow Bay residents the trip to the dump is not that long but
Cape Tribulation residents face a 65 km. round trip to get rid of
their rubbish, many times the request was made to council to put
some skip bins in Cape Tribulation but in the end they only managed
to put in one skip bin for only a couple of large businesses, so
those businesses still had to drive to Cow Bay to dump their recycling,
and households and small businesses still had to drive 65 km. to
empty their bins.
The copper phone lines from last century are useless for internet
and while the government spends many millions laying fibre optic
cables to remote indigenous communities the Daintree has no other
choice than satellite internet.
Traditionally this has been slow but speeds picked up when the NBN
arrived, only problem is that every time you get a new dish (I have
gone through three since the service arrived) the dish is only half
the size of the previous one.
This creates the problem that as soon as there is dense cloud cover
or heavy rain (which of course is very common in a rain forest)
then your internet drops out again....
Most of the Daintree was cut off from the rest of the world early
2017 when landline phones were down for more than a week, without
mobile signal the only way to report a fault is to do it online
but then if your internet stops too every time it rains in the wet
season then you're really screwed...
Most people in the normal world are on unlimited download internet
plans, in the Daintree 40 GB per month is about as much as you can
get, that is only 1.3 Gb per day and with many devices doing regular
updates of half a Gb without even telling you that gets chewed up
During the 1980's, in the days before the Daintree Conspiracy was
founded, Telstra dug trenches and put copper phone lines in the
ground all through the Daintree so everybody could have access to
It was a good effort at the time but now in 2017 thirty years later
this system from last century is outdated, it is not suitable for
data transfer for EFTPOS machines or internet, and often malfunctions
in the wet season. A big handicap to Telstra is also the lack of
normal power supply in the Daintree so every exchange needs solar
panels and a back up generator, expensive to set up and cumbersome
to maintain. I
It leads to situations such as early 2017 where the Daintree was
without phone service for weeks, thanks to persistent rain the solar
panels at the Telstra tower did nothing, and then the back up generator
blew up. During a meeting with Telstra in May several business owners
who had been impacted by the phone outage were shocked to hear that
Telstra thinks it is too expensive to have two generators (while
every business in the Daintree has two) and also they could not
be bothered to hire during the breakdown.
Thanks to most of the Daintree having no mobile reception it is
difficult for people to report the faults to the Indian call centres
and many frustrating hours are spent on this by Daintree business
owners who have more important things to do.
Daintree residents get their mail delivered only twice a week.
Mid 2017 the media reported that in the indigenous community of
Wujal Wujal the mail delivery was reduced from three to two times
a week, they were outraged and said twice a week was unacceptable
and it went back to three times a week.
Meanwhile the Daintree is still on two mail deliveries a week....
Mobile telephone service
Only a few spots in the Daintree get a few bars of mobile reception,
most of the Daintree is without signal, which has caused delays
in obtaining help in accidents and emergencies, and it makes life
hard for people doing business online as you often have to get SMS
codes sent to your mobile to log in, open accounts or do online
Federal Black Spot funding has finally been approved for a mobile
tower in Cape Tribulation but we'll see how long it is going to
Parents in Cape Tribulation wanted a play ground for their children.
In most normal places in Australia these facilities are just provided
without any fuss or question but here it took SEVEN years until
the play ground finally materialised.
At the official opening there were some kids playing, and some awkward
looking teenagers too, it had taken that long to establish that
half the Cape Trib kids were too old for this now!
If you have any trouble in the Daintree, don't count on calling
You'll have to sort your problems out yourself, the nearest police
station is in Mossman to the south, or in Wujal Wujal to the north,
although they never come down to the Daintree as far as I know.
There is no police station in the Daintree, even though it has a
community of close to a thousand people.
Especially at night police are reluctant to come up worried they
might miss the last ferry over the Daintree river to get home at
the end of their shift.
There is no public transport in the Daintree, if you don't have
a car you're screwed, and even the High School bus does not even
come up to Cape Tribulation.
There is no water supply anywhere in the Daintree, and although
it is nowhere near such a big issue as the absence of power thanks
to an annual rainfall of 4.5 metres, the Daintree does still get
its dry times too.
The first time I met the Minister of Energy and Water in the Daintree
he said he had just been to Wujal Wujal because their pumps were
getting a bit old and they were worried they might have a problem
with their water supply in the next couple of years. I felt like
saying well we don't have any water supply at all, shouldn't you
come here first?