The Manigurr-ma Camp site at Howard Springs. Picture: Supplied
The Manigurr-ma Camp site at Howard Springs. Picture: Supplied

Inpex site being considered for coronavirus evacuees

EXCLUSIVE

A disused workers' village on the outskirts of Darwin is being seriously considered as a new quarantine centre for Australians returning from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

News Corp can reveal the Federal Government is actively considering sending evacuees to the Manigurr-ma worker accommodation village at Howard Springs, about 30km south of Darwin's CBD, as it faces the prospect of having to quarantine 'literally thousands" more Australians returning from coronavirus-affected areas in China.

 

 

 

The village was built by Japanese gas company Inpex in 2012 to house up to 3500 fly-in workers during the construction of its $55 billion LNG plant in Darwin Harbour.

The last Inpex workers moved out of the facility in 2018.

It was gifted to the Northern Territory Government a year later but remains empty.

 

The pool at the Howard Springs camp. Picture Katrina Bridgeford
The pool at the Howard Springs camp. Picture Katrina Bridgeford

 

A Northern Territory Government spokesman last night said it had not had an approach from the Federal Government about the facility. But senior sources have told News Corp many involved in the quarantining operations, including senior Defence and health officials, believe the village could provide an ideal solution to the Government's growing problem.

The 67-hectare site includes a 50-seat cinema, swimming pool, library, outdoor beach volleyball court, cardio and spin room, commercial style gym, 2700 metre running track, music room, basketball and tennis courts, cricket nets, sports oval, commercial kitchen and dining hall, internet room, tavern and shop.

 

The camp include a gym. Picture Katrina Bridgeford.
The camp include a gym. Picture Katrina Bridgeford.

 

It also has a medical centre on site. Its 875 accommodation units include 3500 bedrooms with ensuites.

The proposal comes amid concerns the Christmas Island detention centre - which has been holding evacuees since Monday - is almost at capacity.

Another 35 Australians were due to arrive on Christmas Island on Thursday, bringing the number of evacuees in the centre to 276.

 

The bedrooms at the camp. Picture Katrina Bridgeford
The bedrooms at the camp. Picture Katrina Bridgeford

 

The government has been drawing up contingency plans for every possible scenario after more than 200 Australians were forced into quarantine on a cruise ship off the Japanese coast.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the Government was looking at other options to quarantine those fleeing the coronavirus outbreak, including hotels and mining camps.

"We are worried about what happens if further provinces are shut down, like has happened already in China and whether we face the prospect of trying to assist people to depart literally in the thousands," he told the ABC on Wednesday.

 

The former Inpex site includes a recreation room. Picture Katrina Bridgeford.
The former Inpex site includes a recreation room. Picture Katrina Bridgeford.

 

"So we're looking at different facilities because we don't have that number, that capacity on Christmas Island."

"There are isolated mining camps or hotels that you could take over. But I think we'll look at all of those in order of what we think is the best response. All of this is in the spirit of preparation."

The Manigurr-ma workers village is being considered because of its size, its near-new facilities including a medical centre, and the fact no-one would need to be kicked out to accommodate evacuees.



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