When race day visitors arrive in Gunnedah, this pothole-riddled gravel road is their welcome sign.

The flood-prone Wilkinson Road has always been a difficult road to maintain but given it serves as the ‘front door’ to Gunnedah’s Riverside Racecourse – a tourism and economic asset for the town – the community expected a lot more.

“It is embarrassing,” Gunnedah Jockey Club secretary Lyn Tongue said.

Last week the club hosted a mid-week TAB meeting at the racecourse with racing connections travelling from Dubbo, Scone, Muswellbrook, Armidale, Coonabarabran and Moree for the event. Some stayed overnight at Gunnedah motels and dined at the local restaurants, pubs and clubs which all benefited the community.

“They travel long distances to our races and then they have to endure this potholed entrance to the racecourse,” Lyn said.

“Every meeting we’re asked why we don’t do something about the road.”

Local resident Maree Wilkinson said the only time the road received attention was before a race meeting but last meet that upgrade didn’t occur either.

“It is virtually a tourism asset,” Maree said.

“I don’t think it’s giving the town a good name.”

Maree has lived at the address for more than 50 years and has given up purchasing a new vehicle.

“It is no use replacing cars because the road is knocking them around too much,” she said.

“I’m past thinking it will get better.”

A Gunnedah Shire Council spokesperson said road maintenance was dependent on the budget made available for that purpose and is set out in council’s operational plan.

“In general, it is planned to grade Wilkinson Road twice a year and attend to the road otherwise when needed, for example, after significant rain events,” the spokesperson said. 

“In the near future, council is scheduled to gravel patch washouts.

“There are isolated locations along Wilkinson Road that deteriorate rapidly where natural drainage paths cross the road during and following rainfall events.”

The spokesperson suggested the resilience of these isolated areas could be improved by constructing new causeways or culverts.

“Council resolved in July 2022 to develop a strategy that identifies drainage upgrades to address these types of issues,” they said.

“Once completed, a report will be presented to council for consideration. The delivery of this strategy will need to be funded.” 

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