COULD the rise and rise of western Sydney end up being part of the story of the rise and rise of Orange?
It’s not such a far-fetched idea.
As the NSW Government is at pains to point out, big things are happening in the sprawling suburbs that make up the west.
The Badgerys Creek Airport, for so long a hot potato tossed between parties and leaders, is going ahead. Hundreds of millions of dollars of investment is being pumped into Parramatta as it looks set to finally fulfil its potential as Sydney’s genuine second CBD.
The Powerhouse Museum is on the move – controversially – to a spot beside the Parramatta River. The first stage of the Sydney Metro railway system, beginning near Rouse Hill and running through the north-western suburbs, is due to start taking passengers next year.
Parramatta light rail is planned. As is an extension of the Sydney Metro network from Central to Parramatta.
New road and rail infrastructure is set to spring up to service the new Badgerys Creek Airport, including a planned railway from outer south west to outer north west.
And the NSW Government wants to preserve a corridor to link the Bells Line of Road with the M7.
Orange has always been blessed by its proximity to the biggest city in the country – close enough to be accessible in a leisurely weekend, but far enough away that the city has never seriously been at risk of losing its country identity.
The four-hour (approximately) drive between the Orange CBD and Sydney CBD has been a selling point for everything from tourism to attracting new residents.
So what could be better than a four-hour trip? A three-hour trip, that’s what.
As flesh begins to be put on the bones of the gargantuan plans for western Sydney in the coming years, it’s hard to see how Orange won’t benefit.
A new airport, new museum, new retail precincts … all will be built on our side of Sydney’s sprawl. New train lines are going to run through suburbs more accessible to those travelling to Sydney from the west than from the north or south.
Sydney’s centre of gravity is being pulled west, dragging all the good things about the big smoke – the shops, the museums, the public transport – that bit closer to us.
Now, if we could just organise for one of those excellent Sydney beaches to be relocated to Penrith, Orange residents would be well and truly set.