BONVILLE?S BLACK HIGHWAY HISTORY
By GRAEME SINGLETON
VIV Gill knows the Pacific Highway south of Coffs Harbour like the back of his hand.
Born in Boambee and now living at Bonville, Mr Gill, a beef and macadamia nut farmer, has travelled it regularly for more than 60 years.
"A blackspot?" he questions. "I think it's got more to do with poor drivers than a bad road."
Ironically, Mr Gill has provided the photographs (pictured) which show that the highway at Bonville has long been a magnet for collisions.
"The photographs were taken on a Saturday afternoon in 1951," Mr Gill said.
"And I know that because the Vanguard involved in the accident was owned and driven by my father, Roy."
"I was 11 at the time and we were heading home to Boambee after a day trip to Bellingen when a car travelling south ran into us on the Bonville Bridge.
"Luckily the road conditions, and the vehicles, meant no-one was driving at speed, but the impact of the collision is easy for anyone to see."
Mr Gill said no-one was hurt in the accident.
"I seem to remember the other car was being driven by a bloke from Bellingen who was returning from a trip to Grafton," he said.
The accident happened only metres from where four people were killed when a bus and Tarago people-mover collided head-on in June this year.
"I remember the (1951) accident became quite a social event," Mr Gill said.
"Members of the Bonville Tennis Club were playing on the courts that used to be on Turnbull's place at the time, and when they saw what had happened they came over to help. They even brought a hot cuppa over for dad.
"That's why, in the photos taken by Dud Lindsay, he looks so relaxed."
Fast-forward more than half a century and Bonville is now infamous as being home to one of the Pacific Highway's deadliest stretches.
Not surprisingly the urgent need for a bypass of the community will no doubt be raised when the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Pacific Highway meets in Coffs Harbour on Monday.
While it is true that neither cars nor roads kill people ? it's the people behind the wheel who actually do that ? the case for a divided carriageway is even stronger now than it was when the Gill family's vanguard came to grief on the Bonville Bridge.