One of the great unfinished road projects in central-western New South Wales is the road link between Orange and Mudgee and the crossing at Dixons Long Point. Indeed, I often refer to it as the 'Holy Grail of unfinished road projects', because people have been trying to get that crossing built and that road fixed for 100 years—and it hasn't been done. It's a very important link, because, if we can get it paved and get a new crossing over the Macquarie River, it will drastically reduce the travel time between Orange and Mudgee, which at present takes about two hours and 20 minutes. At the moment, most of the trip on the crossing is dirt. To get across the Macquarie River, you literally have to drive through it, which means it's four-wheel drive only. I crossed that river a week or two ago and, although the river is low, it is very hazardous. Four-wheel drives often come adrift and, indeed, there are some famous pictures of them floating upstream.
If we can get this road fixed and a crossing installed, it will link these two great regions. It will link them for tourism, for health services and also for mining services. Both Orange and Mudgee are world-renowned wine-producing areas. It would complete the wine trail, so folks will be able to come out from Sydney, go to Mudgee, and then take the link across to Orange, or do it in reverse. A lot of work has gone into getting this link prepared for a concerted push for funding. I think we have a window of opportunity to do that now, especially with the Roads of Strategic Importance announcement recently in the budget. A consultant's report has been prepared by Cabonne Council. In fact, two of them have been prepared.
A lot of work has gone into it. I will be meeting with Cabonne Council next week to go through that report. After we have the meeting with Cabonne Council, it's then a question of drawing all tiers of government together. So I'm talking about the state government, the federal government and the local government, including Cabonne Council, Orange City Council and Mid-Western Regional Council, which are based in and around Mudgee. It's going to take a concerted effort. All parties will need to have some input and help to do some heavy lifting, because it's not just a simple case of installing a crossing; the road actually has to be made safe. If you put a crossing in there, without fixing the approaches, there is the danger that inexperienced drivers, particularly those from urban areas or younger drivers, may not be able to deal with the steep inclines on that road. So it's not just the crossing; it needs to be the approaches as well. I think we can do it. I think our window of opportunity is now, if all parties can work together. Now we have the consultant's report. The time to get down to brass tacks is fast approaching, and I can't wait to get this project moving.