Torndirrup National Park set for $1.1m 4G phone tower to bridge coverage gap

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Email Sarah Makse
Telstra regional manager Boyd Brown, O'Connor MP Rick Wilson and City of Albany chief executive Andrew Sharpe.
Camera IconTelstra regional manager Boyd Brown, O'Connor MP Rick Wilson and City of Albany chief executive Andrew Sharpe. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

A treacherous stretch of Albany coast will receive potentially life-saving mobile phone coverage with a new mobile tower to be built in Torndirrup National Park within a year.

A $1.1 million Telstra 4G mobile antenna will be attached to the top of the decommissioned Cave Point Lighthouse to provide much-needed coverage for The Gap and Salmon Holes, reaching more than 30km out to the ocean.

The tower follows a 2018 coronial inquest into the deaths of two fisherman at Salmon Holes.

In order to improve communication for emergency services, the coroner recommended a mobile tower be built on Eclipse Island.

It took about four years to find a suitable location for the tower within the national park after the offshore site proved unfeasible.

The Federal Government pitched in $474,892 under the Regional Connectivity Program towards the tower.

“This particular mobile phone black-spot tower has been announced several times and it has been a fairly torturous process to get to this stage where the funding has finally lined up,” O’Connor MP Rick Wilson said.

“The Commonwealth, the State and Telstra agreed to fund this particular site. It has been a very long process and it has been very frustrating for me and I know certainly some of the emergency services groups.

“While it has taken a long time, this is a difficult part of the world to operate in for Telstra because we are in a national park here and it is a pretty isolated and rugged part of the country.”

Telstra WA regional manager Boyd Brown said the tower should be switched on within a year.

“The national park here attracts around 250,000 tourists each year and mobile coverage here at the moment is limited,” he said. “We did have trouble getting approval through DBCA and rightly so, putting this sort of equipment into a national park needs to meet everybody’s objectives.” Mr Brown said modelling indicated coverage could reach more than 50km out to the ocean in the correct conditions.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails