THE next time NSW Premier Barry comes to the Riverina it could be to open Tumbarumba’s Mannus Dam, the member for Albury Greg Aplin believes.
Mr O’Farrell took part in Saturday’s 14-kilometre Tumbatrek with more than 80 civilians, politicians and local government representatives, including federal member for Riverina Michael McCormack, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Mr Aplin.
Mr Aplin said the trek showcased the Riverina and was an opportunity to talk politics in an informal setting.
“You talk about issues and the Premier being on-hand meant many people had an informal chat with him,” he said.
“The Premier indicated that he hoped to be back.”
Mr Aplin said that visit could be to open a restored Mannus Dam.
“If everything goes to plan, that could be one of next year’s agenda items,” he said.
The trek, along the Hume and Hovell Track in the Snowy Mountains, was started by the former deputy prime minister and member for Farrer, Tim Fischer, in 1985 to promote the landscape.
Its origins were not lost on Mr O’Farrell, who said the region had plenty to offer city dwellers.
“The history of this region — the (Hume and Hovell) track, the gold diggings, the timber getters and the farmers — is just extraordinary,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“Everybody in the cities — Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong — needs to understand the regions better and this would be a great way to do it.”
Apart from the chance to enjoy what Mr McCormack said was one of the best-kept secrets of Australian tourism, the trek also gave politicians the rare chance to mix in a relaxed setting.
Mr O’Farrell left his minders at home and his phone out of reach and chatted with anyone on the trek keen to have a yarn with him.
This year was the third edition of the revived Tumbatrek, with trekkers covering part of the original route used by Hamilton Hume and William Hovell on the first overland expedition from Yass to Corio Bay in 1824.
Mr McCormack revived the event in 2012 after taking up a challenge from Tumbatrek founder Mr Fischer.
Mr McCormack said the trek had been “really special”.
“This is beautiful countryside and the people here are second to none — they’re warm, genuine country people,” he said.