May 12, 2022

Farmers Colleen Condliffe and Carly Noble push for Victorian freight hub at Bridgewater on Loddon

Two farmers in central Victoria have an ambitious plan to build what could be the largest inland freight and container rail port in the southern hemisphere.

Colleen Condliffe fought hard in her 16 years as a Loddon Shire councilor to keep the local rail network running and now has her sights set on an inland port at Bridgewater on Loddon.

“My focus as an adviser was to get the Inglewood, Bridgewater and Marong line back into service in Eaglehawk,” Ms Condliffe said.

“When I left the council I still kept all those connections, and in that proposal there were plans for an inland port, because all the traffic comes into Bridgewater in central Victoria – it’s all freight , everything is truck.”

Ms Condliffe teamed up with farmer Carly Noble and the pair worked on a feasibility study and financial plan in hopes of creating a private hub with shareholders.

What is the proposal?

Ms Noble said the port would cover an area of ​​up to 300 acres and could have up to 20 terminals.

“It would cover 26 industries that will enable trade deals, both here domestically and internationally,” she said.

“From forestry to mineral extraction, it covers agriculture, renewable energy – it’s so broad and broad.

“I would say the best thing about Bridgewater over Loddon is that it actually has a five-lane crossing – it actually connects all the major road infrastructure networks going in and out.

With concerns already surrounding a lack of funding for regional rail networks across the state, the pair said this long-term proposal could cross the line because it would kill two birds with one stone.

“We want to upgrade the line, of course, which opens up a line for general passengers, and residents can go to Bendigo for shopping or going to the hospital,” Ms Noble said.

“But you also have huge long-term growth, and you know we’re going to grow, regions are going to move – we’ve seen that with COVID-19.

“Through the port we can connect the rail that will arrive from New South Wales, South Australia, across Western Australia and Queensland.

“The last number I had was around $120 million for the hub, but that didn’t take into account changes during COVID-19.

“But we want it to be fair – it’s not a company or a company that has a total monopoly on the port, we want everyone to have a say.”