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The Northern Railway Extension from Tamworth

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Friday 11 August 1876, The Sydney Morning Herald

To The Editor Of The Herald

SIR, – As the subject of railway extension is engaging the attention of the whole colony more or less, so to speak, and noticing a letter in your column of the 22nd ultimo, signed “Thomas Moser,” I desire to make a few remarks in reply.

Mr. Moser strongly recommends the Armidale route and supposes most of the members of Parliament totally unacquainted with the country, otherwise his apparently pet line would be adopted.

Before the line via Manilla, Barraba, and on to Inverell, is so sweepingly condemned, it may not be out of place to compare the relative merits of both routes.

The Moonbi range has been considered the great bugbear to overcome in constructing a railway line to Armidale.

But lo ! and behold, the range can be avoided, and’ by a tortuous and circuitous route the line may be made to Armidale. But what is the nature of the country to be traversed? Why, all along the Cockburn river the country is mountainous, hilly, and rugged, with exception of a few patches good land here and there adjoining the watercourse.

The country all around Surveyor’s Creek maybe similarly described, and no one who has travelled there would for one moment compare it to the rich and fertile district all along the line from Tamworth to Inverell, by way of Barraba, Bingera, and Myall Creek.

There are it few good farms about Walcha, but their area is very limited indeed.

Leaving Walcha behind,there in nothing worth mentioning until you come to the vicinity of Armidale, where there is certainly excellent agricultural land ; but unless farming is carried on upon scientific principles in that district, it will in a few years become another Camden, where the country was so often cropped with the same cereal (wheat) that the strength and substance of the soil became completely exhausted. and farming had to be given up.

Armidale farms are fast approaching this climax, as the average yield last year was only 11 bushels per acre.

Mr. M. wisely says but little of the route beyond Armidale, but suggests that there would be would be no difficulty in crossing the Commissioner’s water, said water being about five miles due east of Armidale on the Grafton road, I suppose, this divergence is meant in order to avoid the “Devil’s Pinch,” situated nearly halfway between Glen Innes and Armidale, and presenting engineering difficulties of no mean order.

Now, let any unbiased, unprejudiced party or posse of members from both sides of the Assembly look at the geographical position of the two routes referred to; and, with the surveyors and engineers’ reports before them, they would to a dead certainty never recommend a main trunk line, via Armidale, according to the route described by Mr. Moser and others, who appear to have little or no knowledge of the country they condemn by way of Barraba.

In a national point of view it would be to the interest and benefit of any Government to construct the main line of railway so as to embrace good land, large resources, as well as being centrally situated.

The route by Barraba, and the other places mentioned, possesses all those qualifications in a pre-eminent degree, as testified by the able report of that line by Mr. Surveyor Wade.

Mr. Abbott, the member for the Tenterfield electorate has been roundly rated by Mr. Moser, and other Armidale champions for giving a true and faithful description of the country from Tamworth to Inverell, as well as graphically pourtraying the Armidale route, he (Mr. Abbott) knows so thoroughly, which appears to have been very unsavoury to our Armidale neighbours.

Mr. Moser asks how it comes about that we had to send so many thousands of our sheep and cattle to the Armidale district last summer in order to save their precious necks, the answer is easily given.

The Armidale district was favoured with copious showers of rain when most of tho colony was suffering from the effects of a severe drought, and flockmasters has no alternative but travel their stock wherever feed was to be found.

Now, with reference to the country between Tamworth and Barraba (a distance of sixty miles, and almost level), it cannot be surpassed ; but it has been termed a barren waste. What are the facts? Mr Edward Newton, J. P., has grown wheat which yielded45 bushels to the acre. Mr. Salter has grown maize which gave returns of 60 bushels to the acre. The vine grows luxuriantly, and the wine produced compares favourably with the celebrated Bukkulla wine of this district, and the resources all along the entire route on to the Queensland border immeasurably transcends that by way of Armidale.

Take, for instance, the quantity of tin ore raised, which in itself would form no mean item of revenue to a railway, and the tin mines promise to be permanent, as much of the land taken up by large companies and abandoned are now being profitably worked by private enterprise.

The wool, tallow, hides, fat stock, and all other produce from the vast territory to the west of Inverell and other towns situated upon this route, would pour into the main trunk line to swell the railway receipts; besides the country would gradually become more and more populated, as the land being well adapted for settlers of every description.

The Armidale writers and speakers set great store upon their population, but let the population of the Gwydir district be added to Inverell, Tenterfield, and the whole of the country embraced in the line advocated, and it will be seen that the number far exceeds that by the coast-line, so to speak, of the Armidale route.

The Inverell people do not care a farthing should the snorting iron horse pass them thirty or forty miles to the westward, as thereby a much wider field would be opened out for a main trunk line of railway.

It may not be generally known that there are several seams of coal situated about forty miles west of Inverell; however, such is the fact, and in the event of a railway being constructed, a new industry would spring into existence in this rich and otherwise fertile district.

I have said nothing about the large amount of wheat grown in this district as it is well known to be one of the finest portions of the colony for cultivating that cereal, and each succeeding year adds to the area cultivated.

We have several large vineyards in our midst, chief of which is the celebrated Bukkulla, belonging to Messrs. Wyndham, Brothers; Mr Ross’s, Mr. Seitz’s, Mr. A. Murray’s, and Captain Williamson’s being next in rank, besides many others now firming, so that at no distant date we shall be able to export wine upon a large scale. This proves the superiority of our soil and climate beyond a doubt.

But I must conclude, fully believing that the powers that be, when assembled in solemn conclave, will decide upon constructing the extension of the main trunk line of railway through the territory that will be to the greatest advantage of the colony in general.

Apologising for occupying so much of your valuable space,

Inverell, 6th August.

Written by macalba

May 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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