‘Forgotten corner’ connected at last
Saturday, 4th July, 2020
By Annette Northey
The official opening for the long-awaited completion of the sealing of the Silver City Highway between Broken Hill and Tibooburra (Tibooburra Road) was held on Wednesday night.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole officiated with the help of Alistair Lunn, Director West - Transport for NSW; Carol-Anne Nelson, Deputy Secretary Regional and Outer Metropolitan - Transport for NSW; and some very chuffed locals who also got in on the action.
Some students from Tibooburra Public School helped Mr Toole cut the ribbon on the commemorative plaque, which has been mounted on a granite boulder, and the local P&C catered for the barbecue dinner.
Mr Toole said it was a significant milestone for the NSW Government’s $145 million project to seal the last dirt roads in the NSW highway network, which will benefit freight operators, open up tourism in the region, and be a game-changer for locals.
“The transformation of the Silver City Highway between Broken Hill and Tibooburra from dirt road to a bitumen seal highway is a real win for the communities it connects and the freight companies it serves,” he said.
“The sealing of this section of highway will ensure fewer highway closures, provide greater economic opportunities for local and interstate businesses and make trips faster, smoother and safer.”
Tracey Hotchin of the Tibooburra Hotel said when her grandfather owned the hotel 30-odd years ago he was asked the question in 1974 - what did he think the main thing for Tibooburra was?
“He said that if the road could be sealed, especially for tourism when National Parks had taken up Sturt, and it was seen then that tourism was Tibooburra’s next step, a bitumen road would have been a big plus for that.
“So this is definitely a plus for business,” she said.
“But I’ve also got a sheep and cattle property too and just to get stock in and out, transporting and stuff, that’s an absolute bonus for us.”
John ‘Johnny A’ Ainsworth from the Tibooburra Progress Association said the whole town is rapt.
“It’s been a long time coming and a lot of us in our 70s didn’t expect to see it in our lifetime,” he said.
“And now that it’s happened, and I’m having a yarn with my mates down the road, we say gee, look at this. Here we are, we’re only 74, and the bloody road’s sealed.
“It’s just a big boost to the town, there’s been people coming through saying they didn’t even know this place was here.”
Mia Degoumois of the Packsaddle Roadhouse is excited about the possibilities that will open up for the region.
“You sort of feel like you’re in the forgotten corner of NSW out here, but I think it’s going to definitely be a lot better.
“The biggest thing now is everyone’s just hoping Queensland will get on board and meet at Warri Gate, and that’ll open a whole section right through,” she said.
Mia said at the opening one of the guests made a really good comment, which was that years ago it took eight days to travel the distance on a camel and now it only takes three-and-a-half hours.