PAWD on the right track with Roads Minister

Smiths Well Creek on the Tibooburra Road

Recent heavy rainfall around the Barrier region has served as a reminder to residents just how quickly Broken Hill can become cut off from the rest of the world, with creeks rising making it impossible for some to go about their day-to-day duties, especially local landowners.

Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling (PAWD) Councillor Lachlan Gall is one such landowner who’s been proactively seeking solutions to the regularly silted up Smiths Well Creek causeway about 35kms north of the city on the Silver City Hwy.

“The causeway is significantly lower than the creek bed and fills with up to 0.7m of water and mud every time the creek runs. Vehicles hitting the submerged silt bank are becoming bogged or sustaining damage. Every time the causeway silts up the highway is closed, and earthmoving machinery has to be sent out from Broken Hill,” says Mr Gall.

“The recent road closures are a regular occurrence, and the highway gets cut after as little as 15mm of rain in the Smiths Well Creek catchment. This time round, there was only 8mm recorded 7.6kms northwest of the causeway and 12mm recorded 4.8kms south of the causeway.

“PAWD has made repeated representations about Smiths Well Creek and recommended a permanent fix by raising the height of the causeway, but our letters received no response, and the problem is becoming progressively worse as the creek downstream is completely silted up.

“PAWD wrote to Regional Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison last year,” Mr Gall said. “We wanted to highlight several benefits that would come from fully sealing the Silver City Highway, Mutawintji Rd, and The Cut Line so that tourists would be more likely to travel to Tibooburra and Sturt National Park.”

Minister Aitchison is visiting the northwest region this week and has accepted PAWD’s offer to give her a tour – weather permitting – of a few causeways of particular concern including Smiths Well Creek, Treloar Creek (5kms north of Smiths Well Creek) and Black Oak Creek near the Nundooka turnoff.

Other causeways of concern are:

  • Horsepaddock Creek (Mutawintji – White Cliffs Road, near Nuntherungie Station turnoff)
  • Old Rowena Creek (Waterbag Road, near Mutawintji National Park)
  • Unnamed creek (Broken Hill – Menindee Road, 1.5kms east of Huonville turnoff)

“The Minister’s office was extremely apologetic about the lack of a response to our correspondence and undertook to arrange a meeting in addition to facilitating the road trip on Tuesday,” Mr Gall told the Barrier Truth.

“Over the last two years, the NSW government has purchased several pastoral properties across far west to add to its National Parks portfolio, so the community has been told to expect an influx of tourists visiting these parks. But the problem is that most national parks out this way are only accessible via unsealed roads, which will prevent many tourists from venturing beyond Broken Hill,” said Mr Gall. “If tourism is vital to the economic future of the region, the only solution is to seal more roads.

“Tourism generates economic activity and employment and business opportunities. These benefits are no doubt of increased importance as the area is currently suffering through a period of heavily reduced returns from the livestock sector and the announcement that the Rasp Mine in Broken Hill is moving towards a staged closure.

“Transport for NSW recently commenced a gravel resheeting project on the Mutawintji Road and the project is expected to be ongoing for at least six months. Gravel resheeting is a positive development and welcomed by PAWD, however gravel does not persist in the long term,” says Mr Gall.

“The best way to protect the investment in improving the Mutawintji Road would be to seal the road, and the most cost-effective way forward is to seal it whilst the Transport for NSW construction crew is already on site.”

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