Dirt road harming tourism

MICK MURRAY: "It is a perfect route for day trips, if only that last stretch wasn't so rough." INSET: where the road is starting to break up into potholes again.

COLLIE is missing out on day trippers because the last six kilometres of the Mungalup Road — between Collie and Dardanup — have not been sealed, says Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray. The shadow minister for the south-west intends raising the matter again with Roads Minister Troy Buswell when parliament resumes on Tuesday, August 7. His case would be strengthened if the local Department of Environment and Conservation office put the job on its priority list, said Mr Murray.

“It’s costing us a fortune in tourism,” Mr Murray said this week.

“It is a perfect route for day trips, if only that last stretch wasn’t so rough.

“In summer and winter, it’s one of the best drives we have.”

If the road was sealed, tourism operators would happily recommend to Bunbury-based visitors a day trip taking in Dardanup, the Ferguson Valley, Collie and returning via Coalfields Highway.

Much of the road was in “pretty good nick”, he noted, driving along it early this week. It must have been recently graded but potholes were already reappearing in one low section.

If that last section, in the Donnybrook-Balingup shire, was sealed, it would also take some pressure off the Coalfields Highway, Mr Murray said.

A number of Worsley and coal mine workers from the neighbouring Donnybrook-Balingup and Dardanup shires took the longer highway route to work to avoid damaging their cars by commuting along the unsealed stretch of road.

The work might be done if the Department of Environment and Conservation made the job a top priority, but local management seemed more intent on upgrading Honeymoon Pool, Mr Murray said.

The work could be funded by DEC as it has tourism implications and Main Roads WA.

“Collie council has done its bit, up to the shire boundary,” he added.

Donnybrook-Balingup Shire Council chief executive officer John Attwood said his council would support upgrading the road.

It had joined Dardanup and Collie in jointly applying for Royalties for Regions funding to seal that last six kilometers but had been knocked back.

“We have no immediate plans to fund it from our budget,” Mr Attwood said.

Mr Murray said he had raised the matter with Mr Buswell in the past and the minister was aware of it.

“We are pushing to get tourists into the country but are hampered by roads such as this,” he complained.

Collie shire chief executive officer Jason Whiteaker confirmed the remaining unsealed section was in the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup.

“We have been advocating for a number of years to have this section sealed,” he said on Tuesday.

“We did join the other councils in putting in a Royalties for Regions grant application.

“We view it as an important regional link road and will continue our support for the project.”

Mr Whiteaker estimated the cost of sealing the road at between $750,000 and $1 million.

The Collie River Valley Marketing Group and the Collie Visitor Centre also want that last stretch of Mungalup Road sealed

“Certainly it had been a major priority for both groups,” said Rosanne Pimm, who chairs the visitor centre committee committee and is the marketing group’s deputy chair.