For 100 years the people of central-western New South Wales have been seeking a crossing over the Macquarie River at Dixons Long Point between Orange and Mudgee. It's a Holy Grail of unfinished road projects in the region. At present, it takes about two hours and 20 minutes to drive between Orange and Mudgee, but the most direct route is via Dixons Long Point, and, with no crossing, the only way across is straight through the river. The stories of cars and four-wheel drives getting stranded in the Macquarie is the stuff of legend. Dragging them out is also a constant source of irritation to local farmers, who are called upon to do it. An improved road and crossing at Dixons Long Point over the Macquarie would drastically reduce the travel time between Orange and Mudgee and link these regions. Two consultants' reports have recently been prepared to look at costings and cost-benefit ratios, and the findings are promising.
The recently announced Roads of Strategic Importance initiative has given us hope. I met with Cabonne Shire Council on Monday to discuss the reports. In June I hope to bring all the relevant councils, as well as state government representatives, together to discuss how we can get this key project cracking. If all levels of government join the effort, I believe that we can do it, but our window of opportunity is now and we can't waste it. The time for a crossing at Dixons Long Point at the Macquarie River is here.