Inland rail route through Macintyre Valley in 'maddest possible place'

Toomelah Land Council chairman Carl McGrady, Richard Doyle, of Malgarai, Boggabilla, Andrew Mackay, of Merawah, Boggabilla, and Robert Mackay, of Budleigh, Boggabilla.
Toomelah Land Council chairman Carl McGrady, Richard Doyle, of Malgarai, Boggabilla, Andrew Mackay, of Merawah, Boggabilla, and Robert Mackay, of Budleigh, Boggabilla.

Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu has taken the concerns of border landowners about the inland rail, to Canberra.

“Both the Moree Plains Shire and GRC lobbied for the western corridor as proposed by (Boggabilla farmer) Richard (Doyle) which brings the rail closer to Boggabilla.

“I have personally been to Canberra and met with members of Minister Chester’s office, and reinforced the fact that if the alignment is to stay in the advised position, we can accept nothing less than an elevated structures from the Whalan Creek to where it may cross the river,” he said.

I have met with members of Minister Chester’s office, and reinforced the fact that if the alignment is to stay in the advised position, we can accept nothing less than an elevated structures from the Whalan Creek to where it may cross the river

GRC Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu

“The use of banks is totally unacceptable and we have made our position very clear to both ARTC and the Federal Government and we will maintain that position.”

Landholders on the border are concerned by a lack of community awareness about the proposed Inland Rail crossing through their floodplain.

“If you were given the job of picking the maddest possible place you could possibly cross the river where you could cause the most trouble, this would be it,” said Boggabilla landholder Robert Mackay. 

Neighbour, Richard Doyle, said the major concern for landholders in the Macintyre floodplain who are aware of the proposed alignment was the potential for a major diversion of water away from the natural flow.

Proposed Inland Rail alignment through the Macintyre floodplain.

Proposed Inland Rail alignment through the Macintyre floodplain.

“Potentially, water could be diverted down the Whalan system that otherwise could have flowed down the river and that has major consequences for the industry in the valley for access to water, and also erosion and just a general changing of the whole ecology of the valley itself,” he said. 

Toomelah Land Council chairman Carl McGrady said his community was no stranger to flooding from the Macintyre River. “At the moment we live with it and it disperses,” he said.

“If you put a two-metre wall in front of it, it's either going to rip us off our little island here, take out Boggabilla, and then any water-related industry from there down is going to be null and void because they're either not going to have the water because it's dispersing, or it’s going to be too much and it’s going to rip all the pumps out of the river anyway.”

The proposed alignment was a major blow for Andrew Mackay, of Merawah, Boggabilla, who said it would cut straight through his property, effectively cutting it into four pieces.

“As far as landholders, you're just sitting here now. No one is going to buy it off you,” he said. “You've just been devalued.  As of today, you're worth a couple million bucks less than you were in August. They've taken what I think is the path of least resistance, which is me.” 

They've taken what I think is the path of least resistance, which is me.

Landowner, Andrew Mackay

While landholders believe the only way to satisfy all requirements to prevent major flooding is to construct a railway bridge of 16km across the entire floodplain, Mr Doyle said they know that will never happen. 

“Without knowing anything, we are absolutely certain that's not what they budgeted on,” he said.

Instead, they would like to see the river crossing seven kilometres west of the current proposed alignment.