Tumut Road Needs 'Short Section'

By Bruce Brammall

17 November 1971 The Canberra Times

Only a relatively short section of road needed construction before the long-awaited all-weather link between Canberra and Tumut came into being, members of the ACT Advisory Council were told yesterday.

The council members, who had been taken on a tour of the two routes from which one will eventually be selected for the link, learnt also that completion of that section would enable waste wood from an ACT mill to be sold to a fibre wood-processing plant at Tumut.

They were being addressed at a luncheon in Tumut by the Tumut Shire President, Mr R. R. Knox.

Press representatives from Canberra were unable to attend the luncheon but information used by Mr Knox as the basis of his address said that only about 20 miles of the 78-mile Brindabella route was unsuitable for heavy vehicles.

A document he used said:

"From Tumut towards Canberra the Brindabella way, the road is under three separate authorities as follows: 36 miles Forestry Commission of NSW (who construct roads for their own purposes). 12 miles Yarrowlumla Shire Council . . . and 30 miles ACT.

"The Forestry Commission has re- constructed and sealed 22 miles of the road, reconstructed and levelled a further six miles, leaving eight miles which has only been reconstructed.

"At this point the Forestry Com- mission's interest ends. Yarrowlumla then joins with seven miles to Brindabella Bridge and five miles from there to Piccadilly Circus or thereabouts. These 12 miles need a lot of work on them".

Personal observation confirmed this assessment as the ACT council members returned, but in fact the last eight miles of the Forestry Commission road, though reconstructed, is deeply rutted and highly susceptible to wet weather.

The 12-mile section in Yarrowlumla Shire is barely wide enough for a car to pass, steep, winding and dangerous and so rough as to be suitable mainly for competitively inclined goats.

The document Mr Knox used was his reply, made last month, to a sub- mission to his council by Pyneboard Pty Ltd, which has a major wood fibre mill in Tumut.

The submission said that many of the company's competitors had "access to reasonably priced waste [woodchips and sawdust]" and "in an endeavour to secure similar material we have held discussions with the organisation which will soon be carrying on sawmilling in the ACT".

"Reasonably large quantities of waste are available, and should we be able to transport this at a low cost from Canberra to Tumut, this will enable us to significantly increase our plant at Tumut ..", the submission went on.

The only economic route would be through the Brindabellas, it said, and asked when the last bad section of road might be rebuilt.

It added that the company would not be able to commit itself to buying the wood waste from the sawmill (now being built on the Cooma road) "until we can foresee an economical route ...".

The Advisory Council members were taken to Tumut by the Department of the Interior via Wee Jasper, a slightly longer route, which is marginally favoured by the most recent of a long series of cost-benefit studies, made jointly by the Commonwealth and NSW Governments.

They returned by the Brindabella route.

The Department of the Interior insists that yesterday's inspection tour was no more than that, and that as far as it is aware there is no prospect of any work on either route as a full-scale link for several years.