Bridle Track: still closed nine years on

ByWes WhitworthAugust 15, 2019
Bridle Track: still closed nine years on

Despite a great deal of coverage and promises on the reopening and works to be completed on the Bridle Track which runs from Hill End to Bathurst in New South Wales, which still to this day remains closed.

This week marks the ninth anniversary of the closure, back in 2010, due to Monaghan’s Bluff becoming impassable. Paul Toole, the Minister for Lands and Forestry in New South Wales, and the local member for Bathurst announced a $2-million investment to repair the road and have it reopened. This has however gone by the wayside with the Bridle Track Action Group now penning an open letter to the New South Wales Premier.

Bridle Track to reopen

Dear Premier,

The people of the Central West of New South Wales call on your strong leadership to reopen the Bridle Track, which is the historic, scenic road that runs from Bathurst to Hill End.

Nine years ago, this month, following a rock fall, the iconic and well-used Bridle Track was closed. At the time Bathurst Regional Council, under Mayor Paul Toole, recognising the road’s importance for bush fire safety, emergency services, tourism and landowner access, claimed the closure was “temporary”. Since 2010 the road has remained closed and has deteriorated further year after year as a direct result of government neglect of maintenance.

Reported in the Western Advocate on September 18, 2018, our State MP Paul Toole pledged on behalf of the NSW government to fund a “$2 million study” into the Bridle
Track. His expectation was for the Bridle Track to reopen within 12 months.

Mr. Toole’s announcement naturally caused a lot of excitement, however, as the clock ticks into the tenth year of “temporary” Bridle Track closure and Mr. Toole’s pre-election “reopen in 12 months time” sadly fades into oblivion, then Premier, we are calling on you for help.

We implore you to please visit Bathurst as soon as your busy schedule allows, hopefully, owing to the Bridle Track closure, coming by helicopter as the only practical means to view the beautiful, but “virtually road inaccessible” scenic riverfront reserves along the Bridle Track. With local resident Paul Seaman as your expert onboard guide, together with the imminent arrival of Spring, you will marvel at this spectacular country seeing all the camping areas, Monaghans Bluff, the Forge, the Macquarie/Turon river junction, the upper Turon and beautiful Turon River crossing, the Randwick fishing
hole, Hill End, Sofala and finally the location at Long Point for MHR Andrew Gee’s proposed Macquarie river crossing and new Orange/Mudgee road link.

You can then land beside the Macquarie River at Bruinbun for a walk around the nearby Bruinbun, Amy Anderson and Black Gate camping reserves whilst we also provide you with a mouth-watering traditional country-style morning tea on the banks of the river.

You will be warmly welcomed by some local Bruinbun farmers and representatives from Hill End who will drive the very long alternative road trip to Bruinbun just for the opportunity to meet with you. It is our hope that the one local MP, MHR Andrew Gee, who has actually demonstrated a genuine interest in growing regional tourism with his fresh ideas for a new Mudgee road link that could also connect to Hill End/ Bridle Track will also accept our invitation for morning tea with you.

We guarantee you will leave with an indelible impression of some of the most beautiful, spectacular riverside country in this great State that you have the honour to lead. You will gain a first-hand understanding of the frustration of those of us who love the area, who would love to better utilise the track and who see the clear commercial tourism benefits that have been lost to Bathurst, Hill End and the wider Central West.

We are not asking for much, just for a public road to be reopened after a nine year “temporary” closure; a reopening that would provide direct access between Bathurst and the important, historic tourist town of Hill End; revive the tourism that previously flocked to the area; that would improve emergency services access for bush fires and other incidents that all too often occur in the bush; and give landowners proper access to their properties.

Premier, we believe that the government has special funding for regional NSW that could be utilised to construct a section of bypass road to rectify this road closure permanently. In terms of the overall deplorable maintenance of the public road called the Bridle Track, Bathurst Regional Council must be well in front of budget having done so little maintenance on the road for the last nine years.

While we all understand the need for Sydney to prosper, and the need for big ticket infrastructure items to ensure that prosperity, here in the bush we also need infrastructure and forward thinking to enable the Central West to survive and progress.

Root Hog Fire Trail re-opened

The Root Hog Fire Trail re-opened at Hill End, giving more access to the Bridle Track.

Given the scale of the State Government’s overall vision, reopening the Bridle Track might seem unimportant, but to our mind good government is about getting the little things right, as well as the big things.

Premier, please come and visit us – We’re sure you’ll find the Macquarie River much more to your liking than Macquarie Street.

Considering the Bridle Track is still closed over nine years, what do you think it will take, aside from a minor miracle, to have it reopened? Should the politicians holding the purse strings be held accountable for empty promises?