SLOW DOWN AND TREAD LIGHTLY: There may be a low impact solution for Cambanoora Gorge.
SLOW DOWN AND TREAD LIGHTLY: There may be a low impact solution for Cambanoora Gorge.

Riverbed crossings offer relief to Gorge activist

‘COMMON sense has prevailed.’

IT was the end of a long fight for the founder of Save Cambanoora Gorge this week when an engineering report recommended a low impact solution to the river crossing controversy.

Justine Hankin long advocated against the installation of 14 concrete culverts along the Condamine River Road, a “special place” she described as “part of the very fabric of local and regional identity.”

The culvert proposal first gained momentum in 2019 following a report by Kehoe-Myers, but Hankin and her supporters argued the crossings would irrevocably damage the pristine, natural beauty of the unique region.

A petition calling for a better, and more environmentally sound solution, was signed by more than 1700 people and presented to Southern Downs Regional Council late last year.

But in an effort to improve the safety of the roads, the council instead filled the river crossings with 3900 tonnes of foreign material, including asphalt.

Residents were outraged, claiming the material would wash downstream and pollute the waterways.

An independent report released this week, however, shows a different story.

It reveals the intervention was “minor, small scale, and low risk”, effectively clearing council of any wrong-doing according to council environmental manager Craig Magnussen.

Moreover, the report recommended the installation of low impact riverbed crossings as a practical compromise to ongoing traffic, safety and environmental concerns.

“My first reaction is absolute relief,” Ms Hankin said.

“We needed to compromise somewhere along the line to get a solution and I think the bed level crossings, alongside a traffic management plan and a low impact tourism focus could provide long term and sustainable benefits to the community.”