Marla in the  Far North of South Australia, 38 kilometres from the Mintabie Opal mining township has just received an airstrip upgrade.  The airstrip will now be accessible 24-hours a day to emergency services, following a major upgrade.

State/Local Government Relations Minister Gail Gago officially opened the improved aerodrome on Thursday.

Part of the upgrades were solar powered landing lights, sealing of the taxiway, apron and main strip, as well as improvements to the access road from the Stuart Highway. 

The $228,000 upgrade was a joint State and Federal Government project.

“This upgrade means that the Marla airstrip will be available for use 24-hours a day in almost all weather,” Ms Gago said.

“Airstrips in the outback are vital to communities in the remote areas – particularly for the work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in times of emergency.

“Marla is adjacent both the Stuart Highway and the major rail corridor linking Adelaide with  Alice Springs and Darwin, so the airstrip is crucial in the event of a major accident or emergency affecting these transport corridors. 

“The airstrip is regularly used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service for clinic and emergency clearances from both Marla and the Indulkana community.

“I congratulate the Outback Areas Community Development Trust and the Marla Progress Association on their involvement with this project.” 

Ms Gago stayed overnight at the Marla Travellers Rest, stopping off in Coober Pedy on her way back to Adelaide to meet with Coober Pedy’s Mayor, Steve Baines on Friday morning.   

Coober Pedy has recently received confirmation that airport upgrades for the town will commence in 2009 in line with pressures and increased traffic from mining operations in the region.