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Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) has again ensured the supply of food to remote Cape York communities during the wet season by using airplanes to transport essential freight.

The not-for-profit remote store operator usually delivers supplies to its supermarkets in the Indigenous communities of Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, and Doomadgee by road through its truck network.

During the recent wet season, road closures necessitated the need for CEQ to charter weekly airplanes to ensure these communities received fresh food deliveries each week.

CEQ General Manager Stakeholder Engagement Fred Gela said wet season store planning starts six months out, and requires detailed planning and scheduling to ensure everything runs smoothly.

“Even the best laid plans need to remain flexible and nimble, as the weather in the Cape and Torres Strait can often dish up surprises, and the length of this wet season has surprised everyone,” he said.

This year’s wet season event saw flights commence in December 2023.

CEQ’s freight costs for Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, and Doomadgee supermarkets totalled more than $1.27 million for the wet season through the period of December to May.

“The aggregate model that CEQ operates means that the collective good of all stores in the group supports other stores when they have challenges,” Mr Gela said.

“The collective power of the CEQ model is currently enabling this significant cost to be funded for the benefit of our wet season stores.

“These costs are absorbed by CEQ and do not result in a price increase for customers.”

During the recent wet season, CEQ:

  • spent over $1.27 million on 144 air charters to Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, and Doomadgee supermarkets
  • delivered more than 174,000 kilograms of products to these communities.

“Facilitating these deliveries at each community shows the dedication and hard work of our stores team as they tackle the monumental task of unloading planes weekly by hand, despite the challenges posed by the weather and the volume of cargo,” Mr Gela said.

“For example, in a normal wet season year, CEQ would expect Doomadgee to be cut off by road for around two weeks, however this year it was 13 weeks and Kowanyama experienced its longest wet season since 2017, being cut off for 25 weeks.

“Tying in with our vision of caring, every day, always, we see it as our commitment to communities that we go the extra mile during the wet season to ensure essential goods are supplied to the remote Cape York communities in which we operate.

“Our supermarkets’ warehouses and freezers are filled to capacity prior to the wet season arriving.

“Freezer, chiller, and perishable items are all handled to food safety standards, with stock temperature checked upon departure and arrival.

“It’s a complex and very specialised process which will impact on peoples’ health if we get it wrong. We just won’t compromise on our food safety standards.

“Keeping our stores well stocked is particularly important during the wet season, as we’re also often called upon to supply water and essential items in these areas as part of the State’s disaster response efforts.”


Below Collage Features – CEQ Wet Season Key Moments across 2023-2024

Picture Below- CEQ Cairns Support Office DC to Kowanyama – 1st April 2024 – Our dedicated team came together on Easter Monday (Caring, everyday, always…even on public holidays) at the Cairns Airport and Kowanyama to ensure community received much needed supplies.


CEQ is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for providing goods and essential services to the Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), mainland Aboriginal remote communities, and Palm Island through its 30 stores.

CEQ manages Islanders Board of Industry and Service (IBIS) and Aboriginal Business, Industry and Service (ABIS) stores, as well as other stores including Col Jones, Mona’s Bazaar and Mitre 10 on Thursday Island.

For more information on CEQ, visit