Australia’s great urban experiment

Airports Urban planning Transport Greater Western Sydney

Heavy-duty machinery is digging up and levelling the red and yellow soil of the Cumberland Plain between The Northern Road and Elizabeth Drive. Articulated trucks piled high with dirt thunder along Badgerys Creek Road in both directions. On Sydney’s southwestern frontier, I can feel the earth rumbling under my feet. They’re building an airport out here.

On the approach to a small concrete bridge a faded sign reads South Creek Catchment Area. Might this be a bridge over the famous Badgerys Creek? I peer over the railings. The creek bed is dry and choked with bulrushes — it’s midsummer, so no surprises there. Yet it’s hoped that the South Creek catchment will provide a “green spine” for a new city being planned for these parched parts. Where will the water come from to fill the creek to cool the people who will live in the Western Parkland City?

Across the road from the bridge, another sign, much bigger and bolder, reels off numbers with which I’ll soon become very familiar — 28,000 jobs by 2031, ten million passengers by 2031. The airport-with-benefits billboard.

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