One lane is better than none: Gascoyne road reopens and reconnects Ningaloo coast with the south

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Lisa FavazzoMidwest Times
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The temporary single lane road on North West Coast Highway near Minilya.
Camera IconThe temporary single lane road on North West Coast Highway near Minilya. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/Main Roads WA

A major rural highway reopened Monday just two weeks after part of the road was torn away by floodwater, isolating communities from supplies and causing a flurry of hotel cancellations.

A 180km stretch of North West Coastal Highway has been closed since early this month, and is reopening now at reduced capacity.

According to Main Roads WA, several thousands of tonnes of locally sourced gravel and rock were used to create a single-lane road. It has a 60km/h speed restriction and is closed at night.

The fix is only temporary, and works will continue until the road is up to standard.

Traffic may be able to pass through the region, but local business owners are still picking up the pieces of the two weeks they were cut off from the south.

It is the quiet season in tourist town Coral Bay, but Ningaloo Reef Resort front office manager Dianne Yong said they would usually have at least five check-ins every day.

She said most people ditched their holiday plans when the tropical low hit the region, saying the resort was operating with a skeleton roster to save money.

“We have the odd check-in, but we are looking at a pretty empty resort,” she said.

Ms Yong said the Coral Bay tourism industry would bounce back quickly, saying booking numbers picked up as soon as the road opened.

R&L Couriers usually deliver newspapers, medical supplies for the nursing post and private freight to Coral Bay and Exmouth from Carnarvon, travelling up almost every day under normal circumstances.

A WA Country Health Service spokesperson ensured the nursing post was well stocked throughout the road closure, saying every WACHS Mid West site had an emergency management plan. R&L Courier owner Amaro Da Luz said yesterday would be his first day back on the road. He plans to send two trucks up instead of one to help with a huge backlog of freight requests.

“I’ll probably need a week to get through it all,” he said.

Mr Da Luz said he was impressed with how quickly the road had opened, but the time limit would cause an issue.

“It closes at five o’clock. We would usually be back much later than that on an average day,” he said.

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