Ex-Sydneysider STUART PEARSON looks at Bathurst and its future from the perspective of a new resident.
It’s been just over a year since my wife and I moved from Sydney to the lovely inland city of Bathurst. We’ve been welcomed here so warmly that I’d like to give the people something back as a big thank you for Christmas. If you grant the following two wishes, the lives of my fellow citizens will be significantly improved.
The good folks here are living through one of the longest and driest droughts in memory. The rare and intermittent bouts of light rain covering the brown soil in a transient gossamer of green only gives the people a misplaced sense of hope.
The inconvenient truth is that unless our long-term water supply is secured, the citizens of Bathurst will face ever-tightening water restrictions.
So Santa, here is my first wish for the people of Bathurst: please raise the wall of Chifley Dam by at least another metre. This will double the storage capacity of the reservoir and ensure that when it rains (and it will), the growing city of Bathurst can live through more dry times in the future.
I know it will cost many millions of dollars to achieve, and I’m pleased to inform you that Bathurst Regional Council is prudently setting aside a growing pot of money already for this purpose. But it will take many years to accumulate the necessary amount.
If you could look into the future and see the parched, dry earth, the dying animals and the scorched gardens, you’d do your very best to leave a largess of millions of dollars in council’s Christmas stocking, so it can build a higher dam wall sooner.
Once the dam wall has been raised, our region and indeed the entire Central West will be able to welcome and service larger numbers of tourists and new residents to this wonderful area of NSW.
Even though Bathurst is relatively close to Sydney – especially if you’re flying in a sleigh driven by magic reindeer – the Great Dividing mountain range continues to limit the movement of freight and people by road and rail.
For over 200 years, descendants of white settlers have preferred to move north and south along the flat lands of the coast rather than west across the mountains. The Blue Mountains remain a barrier today.
Which leads me to my second and final Christmas wish.
Please Santa, please, please, pretty please find a way to convince our state and federal politicians that the single most significant way to improve the lives of people west of the mountains is to improve the road and transport links to the east.
This will mean shorter, safer and cheaper travel times for passengers and freight.
A modern super highway and straightened electric rail line to Bathurst from Sydney would produce more benefits to more people than any other single initiative.
Fixing our water security and our transport links to Sydney will transform Bathurst and the Central West. Over time, Bathurst will grow to become a major inland city (maybe, in time, the major inland city) servicing more than half a million people west of the divide.
If the growth is managed well, Bathurst will continue to be a vibrant, dynamic and rich city offering jobs, culture, sport, health care, education and a great lifestyle to all who come and stay.
Santa, it could be such a good place to live, that maybe over time, even you will consider relocating to Bathurst.