COMMUNITY EFFORT: From a family of pioneers, Ann Ardrey (second from right) with MP Llew O'Brien (left) and neighbours Ingrid and Horst Sivek, Rob Absalom, Fiona Neagle, along with husband Kevin Ardrey and Transport and Main Roads Department regional director Barbara Van Harden.
COMMUNITY EFFORT: From a family of pioneers, Ann Ardrey (second from right) with MP Llew O'Brien (left) and neighbours Ingrid and Horst Sivek, Rob Absalom, Fiona Neagle, along with husband Kevin Ardrey and Transport and Main Roads Department regional director Barbara Van Harden. Arthur Gorrie

Gympie highway bypass moves ahead, with help from the past

'Work needs to start on Section D now,' O'Brien says: Wide Bay MP calls on Governments to deliver Section D fast and save lives.
'Work needs to start on Section D now,' O'Brien says: Wide Bay MP calls on Governments to deliver Section D fast and save lives.

A FAMILY that helped invent Gympie was an important part of news yesterday of a start on the city's long-awaited Bruce Highway bypass, the final stage of the Cooroy to Curra upgrade.

No one knows how different our region might have been if not for a man called Thomas Powell and his wife Louisa.

They gave prospector James Nash a bed for the night in 1867 as he rode from Imbil Station in search of gold.

Nash spent the night at Traveston Homestead, part of a Powell family grazing empire taking up what were then known as the Traveston, Tuchekoi, Coles Creek and Kybong cattle runs.

The next day, refreshed as a result of the Powells' hospitality, he rode north and discovered gold, the gold that saved Queensland from bankruptcy, in a creek bed near what is now the Gympie Town Hall.

Mr Powell had moved to the area three years earlier, establishing much of the region's grazing industry, raising cattle and droving them to market in Brisbane and Maryborough.

"I like to think he is looking down and feeling quite pleased," Mr Powell's great-great-niece Ann Ardrey said yesterday, as she thanked neighbours and Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien for helping her campaign to name an important highway bridge after MrPowell.

The bridge is on Section C of the highway upgrade, where the new highway crosses the old Tandur Rd.

It is just over a stone's throw from where Mrs Ardrey still lives, on a remnant of the Powells' former Traveston run.

Mr O'Brien announced the bridge's new name and delivered the significant news that the next highway upgrade stage, the Section D bypass of Gympie, was already in the early stages of construction.

He said house demolition and other preliminary work had started on the bypass project, for which he has campaigned on road safety issues for years.

Mr O'Brien said the Transport and Main Roads Department had sent the necessary bypass business case to Infrastructure Australia and the bulldozers were forecast to start major construction in April next year.