It’s been the dream of many for a long time and it seems that – little by little – the sealing of Australia’s longest shortcut, the Outback Way, is getting there.
The ABC reports that more than $205 million in State, Territory and Federal Government funding has been is driving the project forward and – despite the challenges that lie ahead – there is belief that the 2,800 kilometre route from Laverton in WA’s northern Goldfields to Winton in Queensland will one day be fully bitumenised.
Of course, there are those track-hardened grey nomads who decry the march of ‘civilisation’ into their beloved bush, but the Outback Highway Development Council has its eyes on a bigger prize.
The ABC reports that the ultimate goal is to open up remote parts of central Australia to industry and tourism, with the Outback Way to link sealed roads stretching 4,615km from Perth, passing Uluru and the inland hub of Alice Springs, before finishing in tropical north Queensland at Cairns.
The committee’s chairman Patrick Hill, who is also the Shire of Laverton’s president, told the ABC about 1,600 kilometres of the Outback Way remained unsealed.
He said the Shire of Laverton planned to seal 50 kilometres in the first half of 2017, working back from the local government boundary with the remote Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, about 420 kilometres north of Laverton.
Road works should begin in late January and bitumen could be completed by June.
“We’re working closely with the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, trying to get more kilometres for the dollars we’re spending out there,” he told the ABC. “We’ve got a further $130 million to spend over the next couple of years to seal further sections and we’re determining the next priority sections … there’s just over $200 million committed to it, and we’ll put a few dents in that.”
Mr Hill also hoped mining companies along the route would be open to supporting the infrastructure build.
* How will this bitumen dream – if realised – change your Big Lap dreams? Comment below.