Along the road to Gundagai
Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, New South Wales, has breathed new life into the mainstreet of Gundagai with a transformational face lift.
For 200 years or more Gundagai’s Sheridan Street had seen the rumblings of bullock trains and wagons, then semi-trailers and station wagons, as travellers hauled goods and families along the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne.
As the highway traffic grew, Sheridan Street became a strip of service stations, cafes and hotels.
When, in 1977, the highway bypass was built silence fell.
The wide street, the hub of the town’s business and shopping precinct, was much in need of a facelift.
Over the years, mainstreet committees made up of enthusiastic community members formed and reviewed various concepts and plans, eventually culminating in a well-considered and refined design.
The whole community shared concerns about keeping the Gundagai identity and unique heritage alive and strong.
Not only did the townspeople support the project, they were prepared to fund it through a special rate variation, an essential mechanism in allowing the former Gundagai Shire Council to deliver on the vision.
The plan included a full streetscape treatment, replacing underground services, foot paving, retaining walls, ramps, handrails, street lighting, decorative lighting, landscaping, public art, street furniture, kerbing and gutters, and new road pavement.
The project ensured that local heritage and culture was preserved and celebrated, while encouraging visitors and increasing business activities and employment opportunities.
Construction commenced in July 2015 and was completed in April 2018, on budget at a cost of $5,430,490.
A rendered retaining wall along the street’s northern side incorporating the words of the historic song ‘The road to Gundagai’ is a highlight.
Paving of the streetscape along Sheridan Street using exfoliated natural stone pavers, incorporates six wall mounted storyboards.
Other features include 60 items of street furniture, tree planting, shrubs and ground-covers, and the installation of public art works, including the large bronze ‘The great rescue of 1852’ sculpture celebrating the indigenous heroes of the Great Flood, Yarri and Jacky, which is already drawing in visitors.
The Sheridan Street Upgrade Project will also encourage tourists to step off ‘the road to Gundagai’ and stay a while.