It used to be a peaceful drive connecting world-class vineyards and some of WA’s most renowned tourist destinations. Now, frustrated drivers, lines of vehicles, and a growing number of road accidents mar its beauty.
Caves Road stretches for more than 100 kilometres from Busselton to Augusta in WA’s South West, winding through towering karri forests.
Despite its beauty, Main Roads has recorded more than 80 crashes in five years to 2019.
Last week two people were flown to Royal Perth Hospital following two separate crashes that happened within hours of each other.
Over the years there have been many suggestions to improve road safety, but a solution is yet to come to fruition.
Concerned locals have renewed calls for something to be done following the huge influx of tourists this summer.
Widening is not the answer
In 2018, plans to widen the road were met with opposition from locals in the region who said it would require removing trees and destroying what makes the road such a drawcard for visitors.
In the same year, a nomination was put forward to the State’s Heritage Council for the road to be assessed to be heritage listed.
At the time the move raised questions about where that left Main Roads’ plans to improve road safety, but the Australian Heritage Council eventually rejected the bid in July last year.
Jim Matan was a proponent of the move to heritage list the road and said the intention was not to hinder efforts to improve road safety but to protect the famous road’s aesthetic.
So, where now for Caves Road?
Main Roads is now proposing a roundabout at the road’s intersection with Yallingup Beach Road, which it says will ease congestion, improve traffic flow and safety, and reduce driver frustration.
Brianna La Mar owns the general store near the intersection of the proposed roundabout and said it would make a huge difference.
“People get impatient and they try to cut around or cut in front of people.”
However, she said the proposal had been spoken about for years with no action taken.
State should invest now
Member for Vasse Libby Mettam said the proposed roundabout had a lot of community support but she believed it was too far off.
“It would certainly alleviate a lot of frustration felt by tourists and locals alike, particularly at this time of the year.”
She said other quick fixes could include audible edge lines in some areas, reviewing speed limits, and increasing police presence on the road.
Main Roads will conduct further consultation over the roundabout after the March state election to develop a final plan.
Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti said funding for its construction would be examined once consultation concluded.