ROUGH RIDE: Sue Graham with her work van, Sue travels 1700km a week on the
ROUGH RIDE: Sue Graham with her work van, Sue travels 1700km a week on the "Beef Rd” and says it needs a major overhaul. Michael Graham

POTHOLES GALORE: Middlemount couple push for upgrade of road

"IT IS as rough as all hell.”

Sue Graham drives 1700km each week as a delivery driver for Middlemount Bakery.

Most of these kilometres are on the Fitzroy Developmental road, locally known as the Beef road, a road which is narrow, full of potholes, and is a common denominator for many crashes and accidents.

The Fitzroy Developmental is in the Central Highlands region and consists of three separate segments.

The stretch between Taroom and Bauhinia is undergoing $2 million works, with other works planned for $1.3 million project for a new culvert at Palm Tree creek, 42km north of Taroom.

However, the northern section between Dingo to Coppabella through to Middlemount is in desperate need of attention.

"You can be doing 80km/h in the work van and you hit a bump and you are airborne,” Sue said.

For the past three years, Sue has driven from Middlemount to Dingo then Duaringa and back twice a week and from Middlemount to Dysart and back on the other two days.

Driving to Duaringa trip is a 350km round trip and the Dysart trip is another 500km round trip - totalling 1700km in four days.

Getting to know every inch of the road, Sue has learnt where all the "lump, bumps and rough patches” are so she can go around them.

"It's the people that don't know the road,” she said, "It's just rough, the edges of the road as you go from the bitumen to the dirt some of those drops, you have to be really careful

Dash cam footage of the aftermath of the Road Train that rolled over on Monday afternoon on the Fitzroy Developmental Rd, 20kms north of Dingo.
Dash cam footage of the aftermath of the Road Train that rolled over on Monday afternoon on the Fitzroy Developmental Rd, 20kms north of Dingo. Contributed

"I have seen cars on their from flipping because of the road, I have seen it all.”

Another gripe is the visibility of the road edges into nearby grassland.

"They don't keep the sides of the road clear of the road clear enough for kangaroos, pigs, and cattle,” Sue said.

"Birds, rabbits, koalas, hares, dingoes, you name it I have seen it.”

Over the years it has had some work done but not enough, Sue says.

"It's potholes galore, that beef road does get flooded, part of the bitumen get broken up,and then they come fix but they just patch it, they don't fix it,” she said.

"It is getting worse and worse all the time.

"The amount of road trains and traffic that is on that road is ridiculous, it is a main connecting road but to look at it you wouldn't look at it.”

Sue's husband, Michael, also travels the road frequently and is appalled about the condition everyday.

"The state depends on our region, the Central Highlands is making that money in coal but you wouldn't think it when you drive on our roads,” he said.

"You drive along the road and it is just shithouse, that money we make and the revenue we make all goes to the south east corner.

"Where we are in Middlemount here within 150km radius, there is at least a good 10 to 15 mines, and all these trucks have to services these mines.

"Its not the truckies' fault, they are just doing their job.”

The Fitzroy Developmental Road has been subject to a number of crashes over the years.
The Fitzroy Developmental Rd has been subject to a number of crashes over the years. Contributed

One of the main damages in the road is the section of the road being pushed up in the middle.

"Where the tyres are running it gets pushed up and next minute you are on the top of this bump that takes your transmission sump out because you aren't ready for it,” he said.

"It is absolute lunacy to drive a motorbike on there at night, anyone that thought about doing that would be an absolute lunatic, it is madness.”

Growing up in the area, Michael remembers when the road was dirt and says it was possibly better then.

"Its definitely got worse in the last few years, yes they have done patches but it is all towards Emerald, towards the more provincial centre,” he said.

"I travelled that road as a kid when it was dirt, even when it was dirt it still had potholes but you could manage it.”

Michael said the fact that the Sarina range still hadn't been reopened, after it was severely destroyed in March from Cyclone Debbie, showed how important is was to the government.

"That is a classic example of the negligence in these government departments to recognise the fact we do have bad roads up here,” he said.

"If they need a roundabout in Brisbane they will sort it out in a month.”

Putting onus on the state government, Michael said the politicians 'don't have a clue.'

"These politicians don't drive on these roads they fly over the top of them, all they see is the airports,” he said.

"But because we live out here we have to be resilient, we are used to it.”

Both Sue and Michael would like to see a major overhaul on the road.

"It's a major arterial road for the truckies and we should be fixing it, none of this patching up, it needs to be ripped up from one end to other and needs to be relaid,” Michael said.

"Decent maintenance (is needed) on it, even if it is a decent refill, not just a patch job,” Sue said.

BEEF ROAD:

  • The Fitzroy Developmental is in the Central Highlands region and consists of three separate segments.
  • The southern section comes off the Leichardt highway just north of Taroom and meets the Dawson highway, near Bauhinia.
  • The middle section goes from Bauhinia to Capricorn highway, near Duaringa and east of Dingo.
  • The northern section, runs from Dingo to the Peak Downs highway, near Coppabella, going through Middlemount.