Inverell to Queensland railway line.
RAILWAY DEMANDS. INVERELL TO THE BORDER. PROPOSED RAILWAY LINE. TOUR OF MINISTER FOR WORKS. INVERELL, Monday
The demand for railways is a perennial one and to many who live out back the hope of some day having the steel track laid within reasonable distance to their homes is the one thing that makes the future sufficiently attractive to keep them in the bush. With many of the pioneers it is merely a dream of the future but succeeding generations carry on the agitation. The northern part of New South Wales is well in the front with schemes for railway extension, most of which aim at linking up the Moree-Inverell railway with the Queensland border. The Moree-Mungindi line, now being constructed, will form one of these links. Another is that from Warialda or Gravesend to Boggabilla, and the route from Inverell to Texas, the Queensland border town, is also one which has its ardent advocates.
The Minister for Works spent the week-end in touring the country along this proposed line to Texas. He was accompanied by Messrs Jones, Thomas, and Ball, Ms. L. A. , and also a number of district residents. The Inverell district has since the extension of the railway line from Moree been transformed from a pastoral area into one of the most closely settled in the north. Since that time most of the big stations near the town have been subdivided and rich wheat and dairy farms are now scattered over the landscape, which not many years ago was a sheep walk. The country is rich in volcanic soil, and in addition to growing excellent wheat, the conditions are very favourable to the production of lucerne. On Saturday the Minister had a good opportunity of seeing what could be done in developing the dairying industry in the country along the route of the Inverell-Texas Railway. The Arawatta Estate to-day is a magnificent example of what can be done by modern methods, allied to a country eminently adapted for dairying. The Minister was shown over the estate. Nine years ago, when the estate had twice the area of to-day, the number of stock was 6000 sheep, 10 head of cattle, 15 horses, and it is supposed the owner had three men. To-day half the area, 4000 acres, is carrying 1000 head of cattle, 75 horses, 2000 pigs, 2500 stud sheep, and, most important of all, the estate supports 103 persons, fully one third of which are adults. The estate is almost wholly devoted to the dairying industry, which is turned into one channel, that of cheese making. At present only about 500 cows are milked, but before long it is expected that the herd in milk will be increased to 1000 cows.
After leaving Arawatta the party motored to ashford, passing over the undulating red and black wheat country. Many wheat and oat paddocks were passed en route to Ashford, but from Ashford to Bonshaw the country is chiefly devoted to grazing.
The most enthusiastic advocates of the railway are the residents of Ashford, which lies about 10 miles due north of Inverell. The Minister was supplied with information regarding the wealth of the district in grazing, agriculture and coal-mining. The Ashford coal mine has a seam of coil about 40ft thick, and the quality is claimed to be very high. The party crossed the Dumaresque River near Bonshaw, into Queensland, and travelled down the valley to Raleigh, the tobacco plantation owned by Messrs. W. D. and H. O. Wills. Here a modern village has been built by the company on the bank of the liver, and each workman is provided with his residence rent free. Last year there were 200 acres under tobacco, but this will he doubled this year. There is a population of 150 persons on the estate, and 10 children attend school there. The whole of the land is being irrigated by means of compound centrifugal pump, piles and sprays. The plant is grown and cured at Raleigh, and is graded and packed in the Texas factory. Each workman on the plantation is paid £2 or upwards per week. He has his own house and tobacco allowance besides. Each cottage is supplied with water. Although Raleigh, the main plantation, is on the Queensland side, the company buys practically the whole of the plant grown by private owners on both sides of the river.
After leaving Raleigh the party motored to the Silver Spur mine, where they were entertained by the manager, Mr Edwin Hall.
The Texas people are keen on getting a Railway from both Queensland and Inverell. At present all their dairy produce and silver ore is sent to Inglewood; still, they support the proposal of a line from Inverell to Texas, in the interests of closer settlement.
The valley of the Dumaresque is well suited, for dairying, for a great distance above and below Texas. The distance from Inverell, to Texas by road is about 75 miles, almost due north, and the country passed through is of such a character over more than half the distance that closer settlement would follow the construction of a railway. The rainfall, too, averages about 30 inches a year. Ashford, about 10 miles from Inverell, is the main township, the population within ten miles being over 1500. Texas, on the border, is a large town, and the production of the district has increased fivefold since the Queensland Government built the line to Inglewood.