AECOM’s Building and Places team, led by Architecture, has successfully completed the design of the Shute Harbour Ferry Terminal and associated landscape surrounds. The overall $63.5 million restoration project has witnessed a complete rebuild of the seawall, terminal, pontoons and gangways and carpark at the Shute Harbour marine facility. The new seawall has raised the level of the entire facility and carpark by an extra metre for greater resilience to storm surge in the future.

Through a series of extensive stakeholder engagement sessions, the team developed a concept that was endorsed by the community and the Whitsunday Regional Council. The project is a true expression of the environment and reflects the materiality and functionality of a building that will become the focus for tourism and recreation in the region. The aggressive and complex wharf arrangement has been resolved and the external screening element has become an iconic element with the use of existing wharf timbers. The entire project has been delivered through a sustainable framework and decisions have been integrated through consolation with stakeholders.


AECOM completed the initial business case and the design of the terminal building, civil infrastructure and pontoons excluding the wharf structure AECOM’s design effort included the design of the fuel delivery system, which will service a range of commercial ferries, private luxury vessels and recreational boaters and fishers. AECOM also provided technical support throughout the construction phase of the project.


Sustainability in design

In March 2017 Tropical Cyclone Debbie damaged the historic Shute Harbour Marine Terminal beyond repair, leading to the demolition of the buildings, jetties and pontoons that had served local boaties and fishers as well as tourists enroute to the Whitsundays for over 50 years. Reconstruction with the assistance of Commonwealth and State Governments under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery fund has retained familiar elements from the past, and reference to the building’s unique natural setting, while repositioning the facility to serve for many decades to come.

The new building salvages and repurposes the old pontoon decking timbers, which were originally destined for waste, providing a reference to this devastating natural event (and a reminder of the effects of human-driven climate change) as well as capitalising on an opportunity to give this beautiful material a second life.

The re-use of timber salvages from this site was identified as the optimum way to provide shading to the building, while minimising carbon emissions (through transport) and the embodied energy of material selections, which couldn’t possibly get more local! The old pontoons’ timbers now form a curved sunscreen that shades the building’s north-eastern face, ‘activates’ the elevation and provides a penumbra that mediates between the harsh light of the tropics and the cool and dark interior.

The recycled timber also related the building to its setting, evoking not only the natural timbers of the distant and surrounding forests, and the colours and textures of the water’s edge, but reflecting the remaining timber pontoons, gangways, posts and other remnants of man-made marine structures.


Although a challenge at times, this project had multiple layers of stakeholder engagement, with evolving ideas and design changes throughout the life of the project. AECOM, along with other stakeholders, managed these hurdles with ease and constant open lines of communication to ensure that we produced the best outcome for Whitsunday Regional Council, the local community and small business owners.