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Lions Road built on local spirit, foresight and ‘guts’

Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland, Lions Club Vice president Col Griffiths and president Elaine McLean at Lions Rd.
Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland, Lions Club Vice president Col Griffiths and president Elaine McLean at Lions Rd. Susanna Freymark

WHEN Elaine McLean drives up the Lions Rd, steadying her grip on the wheel around the tight corners and across the rattly bridges, she feels safe.

Despite its winding path and frequent single-car access, she feels secure because her husband helped build the 11km of Lions Rd.

 

 

The Lions Road Project, Kyogle. September 24, 1971.
The Lions Road Project, Kyogle. September 24, 1971. The Northern Star Archives

Alan McLean died seven years ago and, as Kyogle Lions Club president, Ms McLean feels closer to her husband when driving the road.

There is a pride in her voice, like many locals, when she talks about how the community banded together to build a road the government wouldn't.

"It's so tranquil here," Ms McLean said at the Border Loop Lookout.

In the early 1970s, Mr McLean was one of the men who pegged out the route the road would take, Lions Club vice-president Col Griffiths said.

 

 

The Lions Road Project, Kyogle. September 24, 1971.
The Lions Road Project, Kyogle. September 24, 1971. The Northern Star Archives

"They walked it through," he said. "They saw it could be done. Without the likes of Jack Hurley, Murphy Standfield, Norm and Herb McIntosh, who had the stamina, there wouldn't be a road."

Kyogle Mayor Danielle Mulholland lives on Gradys Creek Rd which extends onto the Lions Rd.

"The guts and foresight they shared to build this road," Ms Mulholland said.

The Lions Rd was not gazetted as a public road until 1978. What started as a gravel track for jeeps is now a scenic route through national park that not only attracts tourists and motorbike riders to Kyogle and surrounds, it links NSW to Brisbane.

 

 

The Lions Road Project, Kyogle. September 24, 1971.
The Lions Road Project, Kyogle. September 24, 1971. The Northern Star Archives

When the road was tarred in 2001, the amount of work needed to maintain the road was lessened, Mr Griffiths said.

"The army built the Queensland section in 1988," he said.

The Lions Rd relies on donations to maintain its 11km of homemade road. A sturdy, vandal-proof metal box sits at the border encouraging motorists to donate money towards the road's upkeep. Mounted cameras have reduced the attempts to break into the large roadside moneybox.

The first Lions Club in Australia was in Lismore but the Kyogle Lions must surely be the most magnificent for its unique road-building project.

Topics:  history


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