RTA-come-RMS…We Are Not Moving!

[This article was written as a letter by the Editor and first published in the Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper in print eight years ago on 20050202. 

Back then, some of us realised the devastating scale of threat that the RTA Trucking Juggernaut posed for the Blue Mountains, notably a few older wiser folk did too.  We attended token RTA Community Meetings which for Leura were then hosted by spin doctor Iain McLeod and RTA consultants

But our vocal democratic concerns fell on deaf ears and crocodile smiles.  In hindsight the ‘consultation’ was purely so that the RTA could record community attendance on paper as being ‘consultative’ and thus legally compliant before it bulldozed through our villages anyway.    Leura was just one village of many.

Yet many affected locals not in the know, then belatedly started selling up and got pittance or went broke.  This is a snapshot into tragic story of tyrannical bureaucracy bulldozing its power and trucking vested interest through a local community, as if this is not the Australia we know. 

To follow in the coming years we attended RTA-come-RMS community meetings ahead of destruction of Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Lawson, Hazelbrook, Bullaburra and Mount Victoria.   

Rebellious Blackheath looks set to be the last bastion of community resistance against the 4-laned trucking expressway juggernaut.]

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Back in 2005 this long established Leura Service Centre
protested with a sign here to the RTA expressway development, reading:

‘We Are Not Moving’

But the RTA legions came, they lied to locals, then proceeded to engineer a massive new expressway at 4 metres above this premises,
until Leura Service Centre became out of site of its motoring trade.
[Photo by Editor, 20130503, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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Prompted by the protest sign of this highway business, as one passed by it on occasions along the highway, this sense of injustice hit a raw nerve.  This inspired this Editor to write the following letter of solidarity to the local newspaper back in 2005.

Pre- Juggernaut
Great Western Highway outside the Katoomba Hospital (left of photo) showing the stand of endemic Eucalyptus oreades
listed on Blue Mountains Significant Tree Register which has proven to be mean crap.
[Photo by Editor, 20061222, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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‘We Are Not Moving’

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<<Back when first coming up the Mountains, I reminisce a sense of arrival upon reaching Katoomba’s old highway sign: ‘Altitude 1017m’ and stirred by the stands of grey slender and bowed mountain ash, robust on the ridgetop.  With Sydney far behind, I had arrived in the cooler upper Mountains; my escape and destination.

I have since learned these unusual bowed trees are ‘Eucalyptus oreades’, special to the upper Mountains.  But these twenty odd ‘oreades’ just opposite Katoomba hospital are now being clear-felled by the RTA to widen the highway.  Temporary fencing is up and the dozers are in.  Within weeks another tangible remnant of Mountains natural-heritage will disappear.  Sadly, the outcome of the little known ancient ridgetop spring, just below, will fall to the discretion of drainage contractors.  This spring has for eons sustained a fern microclimate and fed Leura Cascades/Falls.  How really precious is what’s downstream?

Sydneysiders have been ‘opening up the west’ since Cox made convicts force the western road across the ridgetop in 1815.  Progress and populations beyond continue to demand a better, more efficient transit across our Mountains.  Widening the ‘great’ Western Highway surely will  dissipate weekend bumper traffic and allow truck drivers to enjoy fewer gear changes.  But expedient are the defiant roadside businesses, heritage and residents’ amenity.  With the roadside planting tokenly native, disregarding journey experiences to become the same as anywhere else.  NSW’s population absorption policy is not ours, yet Sydney’s metropolis officially extends to Mount Victoria.  What transit efficiencies do these highwaymen plan to force through Mt Vic…perhaps our last built-heritage bastion?

Progress through the Blue Mountains, of all places, deserves to be tempered by a proactive rigorous heritage conservation strategy.  As our unique built, natural and cultural heritage of the Mountains piece by piece disappears, so too does its magic and the Mountains appeal as a destination, sanctuary and home.>>

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Established Blue Mountains highway business bullied out of business by the RTA in 2005
[Photo by Editor, 20130503, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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The then head bully, RTA Director Les Wielinga

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The 4-laned Trucking Expressway at Leura  (complete with dodgy cycle lane)
The RTA-come-RMS Concrete Destiny for the remnant Blue Mountains villages
of Bullaburra, Mount Victoria and Blackheath.
Despite what the Bullaburra Progress Association naively believed,
no community is more special than Linehaul Trucking!
[Photo by Editor, 20130503, Photo © ^Creative Commons]

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