"In our Yidinji language, Dugurrdja is the name of the Milky Way – our galaxy – which we see in the southern sky at night, arching from the sea to the mountains."

Henrietta Marrie Gimuy Walubara Yidinji Elder

The Dugurrdja Precinct will be located centrally in Cairns but will benefit the Far North Queensland (FNQ) and Asia Pacific regions. The proposed collocation of health, education and training facilities will enable clinical and translational research, health services innovation and application of best evidence in health care.

In addition, there are opportunities to draw upon wider disciplines and industry collaboration in digital technology, data science and social sciences. The Precinct will enable world class research to be undertaken in Cairns that focuses on and benefits FNQ.

The Precinct will house the JCU CTEC, which will be adjacent to the new Cairns Hospital Surgical Centre which forms part of a $250m investment in new clinical capacity and capability at Cairns Hospital.

Precinct benefits

Development of the Precinct will deliver multiple benefits:

  • Expand tertiary education opportunities in Cairns both by providing opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate research, and helping to expand the offering of tertiary education in Cairns
  • Increase the availability and calibre of postgraduate training in Cairns.

  • Seek to recognise and reflect Indigenous values, knowledge and perspectives, and will encourage engagement with Traditional Owners and promote health equity and improvements for all members of the
  • wider Cairns, Hinterland, Northern Peninsula Area and Torres Strait communities.

  • Enable programs to be run from the Precinct which will increase the connection of high performing secondary students with JCU and the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, and provide
  • inspiring, immersive education experiences
  • Incorporate research focused on the applications of digital technology in health, agriculture, tourism and other key industries.


The Precinct is centrally located less than 6 minutes from the Cairns Airport and less than 3 minutes from the CBD. The Precinct sits adjacent to the main Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service campus and is ideally placed to form part of longer-term plans for a health and innovation Priority Development Area (PDA).

The location of the Precinct means that it is highly accessible to all forms of transport. Regular bus services are provided along Sheridan Street with a stop adjacent to the Precinct. Car parking will be available directly to the north of the Precinct.

top down map of FNQHIP site

Precinct Principles

The Dugurrdja Precinct will be developed in accordance with the following principles:


Acknowledge and respect the history of place; First Peoples and the contemporary challenges we now share to lift the health and social wellbeing of our region.


Inspire innovative and transformational approaches to excellence in delivering world-leading sustainable healthcare in regional, rural and remote communities with global reach.


Promote equity and inclusion for all communities in Northern Australia through innovation, healthcare, research and education.


Bring together disparate communities, sectors and disciplines to connect and collaborate.


Commit to reciprocity and trust between Precinct partners, embracing the interdisciplinary nature of complementary sectors.


Attracting complementary partners with a view to growing skills, strengthening organisations and building networks that creates connectivity within the Precinct.

Indigenous Design

The following design principles will apply to all elements of the Dugurrdja Precinct:

  • Respectful of Ancient Knowledge Traditions
  • Respectful of Place, Country, and Language
  • Respectful of People
  • Respectful of the Hurt
  • Respectful of Continuities and Discontinuities
  • Unlearn, Learn and Re-learn

Implementing these principles will enable a building to be designed in a way that enhances their architectural

performance, maximises the incorporation of passive design, and enables biophilic design - considering the innate relationship between people and nature.


JCU and Cairns Hinterland Hospital and Health Service have consulted from the outset with the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people on the formation and planning of the Precinct, and the design of the CTEC building. The gifted name, Dugurrdja, means the Milky Way Galaxy – looking to the road back to good health.

The Dugurrdja Precinct represents good health, provides guidance to good life and good health, and is a reference point to a place where you go to get good health. The gifted name fosters a positive focus on health rather than illness.

Project Delivery

The proposed timeline is as follows:


Cairns Hospital Surgical Centre to market

Cairns Hospital 45 sub acute beds

Release Prospectus Commence CTEC construction

Cairns Hospital Surgical Centre construction commences


Cairns Hospital Surgical Centre construction commences


CTEC opens

JCU teaching commences


Cairns Hospital Surgical Centre opens

Cairns Hospital Expansion Programme


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