10 February, 2021
Lockhart river with out communications
The town of Lockhart River, on the far north eastern side of Cape York, has been without landline, fax, email and internet since last Tuesday, and mobile connection since Saturday February 6.
The town of Lockhart River has been without landline, fax, email and internet since last Tuesday, and mobile connection since Saturday February 6.
In a series of Facebook posts (initiated from their Cairns office) and text messages, Mayor Wayne Butcher said the problem was reported to Telstra on Tuesday 2 February – but their estimated fix time was not until next Monday 15 February.
He said they believed other Cape and Torres Strait communities were also out of service.
“It’s not safe, if there was a cyclone coming, we wouldn’t be able to keep up to date with information and we wouldn’t be able to warn people properly,” he said.
“If anyone is stranded or broken down somewhere, we can’t help them.
“Even our petrol bowsers depend on the internet, so there’s no unleaded fuel at the moment, although Council has some diesel capacity.
“All in all, it’s impossible to do any work or run a business here, as it would be anywhere, without communications.
“And we are cut off from all road transport – in short, it’s bloody hard to run a business in remote Cape York and Telstra is being less than helpful.”
He said the community had a long history of communication issues, mostly in the wet season, when they needed these services the most.
“In 2018 we struggled to maintain contact with the outside world for six weeks after a lightning strike took out our phone tower,” he said.
“This is a situation that has been getting worse by the year, we need far better communication into our region.
“There are more than 800 residents in and around our town, without any reasonable phone coverage which is unsafe, particularly at this time of year.
“Telstra needs to improve in a big way, we can’t continue with these ongoing failures.”
A Telstra Spokesperson said, “The outage affecting residents of Lockhart River was caused by intermittent power failures at a solar power site in Batavia Downs and is affecting mobile services in the area, including fixed line phone and internet for businesses and residential customers," They said.
"Replacement parts are currently being sourced as a priority and are due for immediate dispatch by helicopter to the site which is expected by midday Wednesday 10 February. In addition to this a temporary mobile ‘Cell on wheels’ is being organised to restore mobile services to customers while a permanent fix is arranged.
"Restoration times for outages across Australia are dependent on many factors, but can be exacerbated by poor weather, access issues to site including significant travel times, and the availability of parts required to fix certain network infrastructure being sourced.
"We thank all residents for their patience and understanding when severe weather events interrupt vital services in remote communities and will share any more information regarding the outage following the site inspection on January 10."