Year-round air access to the community of Warmun will now be possible thanks to a major upgrade of the remote Kimberley town's airstrip in far north Western Australia.
The recently completed $5 million project is part of the WA Government's "investment towards Closing the Gap and supporting the wellbeing of Aboriginal people", the government said on Thursday.
The project was delivered by Main Roads Kimberley Region in collaboration with the Department of Transport.
The new sealed airstrip replaces the former gravel runway allowing safe, year-round access for the twice-weekly WA Country Health Service clinical visits and Royal Flying Doctor Service emergency evacuations, as well as charter flights.
The gravel runway was inoperable during the wet season, forcing RFDS emergency flights to land at the next nearest sealed airstrip at the Argyle Diamond Mine, which is in the process of being closed, or Halls Creek Airport, approximately two hours' drive from Warmun.
Kimberley MLA Divina D'Anna noted that the old Warmun airstrip "was nothing more than a gravel road".
"These upgrades have delivered a sealed runway that will ensure year-round access to the community," she said.
"Our government is committed to ensuring access to remote Aboriginal communities is not only maintained but enhanced, so we can support them during severe weather."
In 2023, the WA government committed nearly $7 million to improved aviation infrastructure in remote Aboriginal communities, including supporting the Warmun airstrip upgrade.
The state is also investing $750,000 to undertake adaptation planning on 34 airstrips in remote communities, to ensure they are fit for purpose in an environment of increased rainfall and flooding due to climate change.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the government recognises the important role of aviation services and infrastructure in connecting people in regional and remote areas to essential goods and services.
"Sealing the Warmun community airstrip was included in our Budget commitments to build safe, strong and connected regional communities and support the wellbeing of Aboriginal people," she said.
"With the project now complete, the community has the peace of mind that the vital health care delivered by the WA Country Health Service and RFDS can continue to be delivered year-round."
See a video on airstrip progress from August to November here.