There’s nothing new under the sun.
Originally dubbed the Steel Mississippi, the proposed 1,700km rail goods service between Melbourne and Brisbane via the inland, but missing Orange, has the same aim as the NSW Legislative Council when in December 1845 it sent explorer Sir Thomas (Major) Mitchell on his fourth expedition into tropical Australia.
Mitchell and his 30-strong group that comprised mostly convicts and two Aboriginal guides trundled out of Boree near Cudal to try to find a trade route across roughly the same country as the proposed train.
Within 12 months of the expedition, most of the rich land along Mitchell’s route was settled in a rush by pastoralists and squatters followed by teamsters, drovers, shearers and ringers.
A string of towns sprang up.
Mitchell’s name nowadays is everywhere.
A highway, a town, rivers, creeks, streets, bridges, grass, a wombat, and a cockatoo are just some of the things that remind us of his expedition.
Inland Rail, a visionary scheme that’s been in the too-hard basket for years, is expected to revitalise struggling rural communities along part of Mitchell’s route.
When built, trains will run up to 115kmh carrying the equivalent of 110 B-double truckloads of goods.
It’s all a bit different to Mitchell’s bullock-drawn carts that he wrote were unsuitable for the job, overloaded and had unskilful drivers.
Inland Rail will use a combination of new and upgraded tracks via Wagga, Junee, Parkes, Narromine, Moree, and Toowoomba to meet the existing interstate line at Kagaru, south of Brisbane.
We wonder what Mitchell would think of it all.
SEEING DOUBLE ON HIGHWAYS
MOTORISTS could be excused for thinking they were seeing double when driving on sections of the Newell Highway near Parkes and West Wyalong.
The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is trialling two parallel centre lines separating traffic by 1.2 metres that could be adopted on all main roads.
The lines are designed to keep drivers in their own lane rather than them drifting across the road resulting in a head-on collision.
The separation between lanes also allows drivers time to correct and return to their lane before entering the path of oncoming traffic.
The RMS says the new lines have been successful, resulting in greatly improved lane discipline.
If the scheme saves accidents, the trial should be extended to the Great Western and Mitchell highways.
SONG AND DANCE ABOUT THE ROAD AHEAD
WHY is it that pollies are now making a big deal of announcing roadworks?
Don’t we pay registration fees and taxes for the government to build and maintain roads?
Isn’t that part of what the government is supposed to do?
So, for example, why is it when a short stretch of highway at Vittoria is being improved that Bathurst MP Paul Toole hops on TV and in the press to announce it?
It’s even doubtful the section of road is in the Bathurst electorate, more likely Orange, so why wasn’t Phil Donato informed?
But what if councils took the same tack announcing mundane stuff?
Imagine mayor John Davis: “my dear ratepayers. It gives me pleasure to announce our parks and gardens staff are mowing grass today…”
Or this: “My dear ratepayers. It gives me pleasure to announce our garbage collection as usual is the ant’s pants…”
Oh well. It goes to show.