Old news from Armidale and New England

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The Great Northern Railway.

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Wednesday 27 March 1878, The Sydney Morning Herald

Yesterday morning Mr. Dillon, M.P., Mr Bennett, M.P., Mr. W. C Browne, M.P., Mr Dangar, M.P., Mr. A. Fraser, Mr. P. Anderson, and Mr. R. Bloxsome had an interview with the Hon. John Sutherland, respecting the extension of the Northern Railway. Mr. Dillon said that a public meeting was held at Inverell on the 13th of March, at which the petition which he had presented to Parliament was adopted. They urged that the line should be continued from Tamworth to the Queensland border, via Inverell in preference to Armidale, for four principal reasons.

The first was that while the line to Armidale would pass chiefly through barren granite country, that to Inverell would render available a far greater area of agricultural land. Of the thirty wheat-producing districts Inverell and Tamworth were the most productive per acre cultivated, while Armidale stood as low down on the list as twenty-one. Then, too, in regard to wine, as another test of the productiveness of the soil, while the average yield per acre for the colony was 177 gallons, the yield in the Inverell district was 577 gallons.

The second reason was that the route to Inverell would intersect some of the richest pastoral country in the colony, the number of sheep on the Liverpool Plains, the Gwydir, and the western slopes of New England being 2,112 000, representing upwards of 4000 tons of wool annually ; while the Armidale route would pass through country upon which was depastured only 650,000 sheep.

The third reason for preferring the Inverell route was that it would intersect a much richer mineral country – Cope’s Creek, Vegetable Creek, the Gulf, and tableland tin mines, as against the gold mines in the neighbourhood of Uralla.

The fourth reason advanced was that by the proposed Inverell extension a much larger number of important centres of population will be benefited than by that via Armidale – thus : the following towns will either be intersected by, or brought within easy distance of railway communication viz., Attunga, Manilla, Barraba, Cobbadah, Bingara, Warialda, Bundarra, Tingha, Inverell, Ashford, Wellingrove, Vegetable Creek and Dundee ; whilst, via the Armidale extension the following towns only will be served, viz. – Moonbi, Bendemeer, Walcha, Uralla, Armidale, Glen Innes, and Deepwater (the latter two places send all their produce to and obtain all their supplies from Grafton).

He had lately visited the district of Tenterfield, and he knew that the feeling there was almost unanimously in favour of the Inverell route. Mr. W. C. Browne and Mr. Dangar referred to the fact that Queensland was drawing off all the trade of the border to Brisbane, and urged the importance of constructing the Northern line with all possible speed. Mr Bennett, and indeed all the members of the deputation, were unanimous in preferring the route via Inverell, for the reasons stated by Mr Dillon, and they argued that the country to the east of the Armidale route would not be taken up for many years, and could not possibly supply traffic to the line. The Inverell route, however, would be fed by country on each side of it, and if the distance by it to the Queensland border were ten or even twenty miles further, as the surveys indicated, the mere question of distance ought not to outweigh the many and important advantages on the other side.

Mr Sutherland said that the Government had no preference for the local interests of either Armidale or Inverell. Their concern would be to open up country best adapted to feed a large population and bring traffic to the line when it was made. The shortest route, all things being equal, ought to be selected, but he admitted that there were other and very important considerations besides mere distance. He had called for information respecting the various portions of the district, and from the Engineer-in-Chief respecting the engineering aspects of the question, and he hoped, in the course of next week, to ask his colleagues to decide upon tho route to be taken. Parliament would thereupon be asked to sanction the construction of the line. The Government would propose for adoption the line which they believed to be best for the country.

Written by macalba

March 16, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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