The Northern Territory’s Roper Highway has been labelled a ‘death trap’ after a 70-year-old man narrowly escaped serious injury after being ‘run off the road’.
Garrie Taylor was towing his boat back from a fishing trip when he approached an S-bend on a dirt section of the single-lane highway, about 500km southeast of Darwin near Sherwin Creek. He says a ute suddenly appeared from around the corner.
“I went as far as I could to the left side of the road but the trailer slipped down the embankment and rolled,” he told the NT News. “It frightened the sh*t out of me. I lay dangling upside down in my seatbelt … I was looking at the world upside down. “
The highway, which cuts east from the Stuart Highway at Mataranka and runs via Roper Bar to end in Numbulwar on the Gulf of Carpentaria, has been put under intense pressure recently. As well as the masses of grey nomads who are hitting the Savannah Way in ever-increasing numbers, three mining projects are also under way there.
According to the NT News, Sherwin Iron’s Roper River project has added 50 new road train trips each day up and down a 140km section of the highway to shift iron ore to the Port of Darwin.
They travel in convoys with a pilot vehicle in front to warn oncoming traffic.
The company is conducting some road upgrades, improving signage and is paying $500,000 to upgrade the road. The NT Government is contributing $1 million to upgrade the road and is conducting a study to target the spending.
But Mr Taylor says it’s not enough – and the road is now too dangerous to use.
“I wouldn’t take my missus or my kids,” he told the NT News. “There’s going to be deaths … if they don’t widen it and bitumen it all the way to Roper Bar.”
Miraculously, neither Mr Taylor nor his little pet dog were injured in the terrifying accident. After cutting himself free from his seatbelt with a knife, he had to punch a hole thought the windscreen to escape. Even then, his ordeal wasn’t over. With no mobile reception, Mr Taylor had to wait for passers-by with satellite phones to call for help.
Do you think the Roper Highway is dangerous? Does the increasing mine traffic frighten you off certain routes? Comment below.