The Road over the Badja Mountain

A BADJA MOUNTAIN REUNION will be held on Saturday 3 November at 11am at Braidwood Services Club remembering the work to build the road in 1955. 

On Easter Monday 1955, a party of four men being Mssrs. J.W. Dempsey – Tallanganda Shire Councillor, J.W. Smith – Tallaganda Shire Engineer, John Horne who lived at the end of the road/track near the mountain and the Rev. F.J. Crowe of St Brigid’s Church, Gundilliion, made an inspection of the area from Snowball Creek to the top of the big Badja Range to seek a possible route for motor traffic.

In the late 1950s, the Tallaganda Shire employed a new engineer named Gordon Pike. During his travels of familiarisation around the Shire he arrived one day at the property of John and Gwen Horne. The Pike and Horne familes became very good friends and or course the possibility of a road over the Badja was discussed.

The result of this discussion was that Gordon Pike contacted the DMR Divisional Engineer in Goulburn, Mr Ken Jordan, and arranged an inspection. With John Horne supplying three horses, he Gordon and Ken rode the area inspecting for a possible road alignment. All agreed that construction of a road with good grades was realistic.

Gordon Pike then carried out a Tacheometric Survey of two possible routes, with Councils Bridge Gang of four as chainmen and scrub clearers, to allow line of sight for the theodolite, and John Horne as guide.

A contour plan was made to push a track from Snowball Creek along the general line of the road on the Plan and Councils HD11 dozer was taken to the site. With Gordon Pike in charge, John Horne as guide, Chook (Felix) Kain as dozer operator and one of council’s assistant engineers, Gordon Stephen, a track was pushed along the side of the steep hills to the flatter country up on top. Near the very top another steep ridge with shelving rock was encountered along the proposed alignment so a deviation was created up and over the ridge. All this activity occurred between the early and mid 1960s.

One of the first significant uses of the track was by the vehicles in the London to Sydney Marathon in 1966. On the Cooma-Monaro side of the mountain there were many logging tracks used by the Badja Sawmill so in effect there was now a road from Nowra to Nerriga, to Braidwood, to Krawaree and then to Cooma.

Various people were then involved in the survey, design and construction of the road. Funding was, as it is today, difficult and this is one of the main reasons that construction progressed over a number of years. In rounded figures the road is approximately 6.5 miles long, from Snowball Creek to the first boundary with Cooma-Monaro Shire, there is another section of road in Tallaganda after the second boundary, and before the next boundary with Cooma-Monaro.

The road was constructed between September 1967 and late 1971/early 1972. An official opening of the road at Pikes Saddle was held February 15, 1974, attended by councillors and workers of both Tallaganda and Cooma-Monaro Shires and many other residents of both shires.

As far as I can determine the total cost of this work was $364,139.06 (this info from Tallaganda Council Records).

BADJA MOUNTAIN REUNION

Saturday 3 November at 11am

Braidwood Services Club. BBQ Lunch. Enquiries Gordon Stephens, Bill George, Brad Hewitt, Barry Jones

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