After 50,420 person hours, 16,437 cubic metres of soil moved, 317 cubic metres of concrete poured and 253 tonnes of aggregate laid - the Pacific National Parkes Logistics Terminal has officially been opened.
Phase one of the $35 million construction job in Brolgan Road began in October last year and saw its first double-stacked freight train depart Parkes for Perth on October 10, 2019.
The work also involved more than 95 separate items of plant machinery introduced to the 365 hectare site, 20 external contractors local to Parkes, the creation of 80 jobs and zero incidents and injuries during construction.
It was all unveiled during a special ceremony at the site on Wednesday, where some guests had travelled from the USA and Canada.
"This is a great story... No one should underestimate how important this story is," Paul Toole said at the gathering.
The NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads - along with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack and Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle - praised those behind bringing more investment opportunities to the region and a forward thinking and visionary Parkes Shire Council.
The terminal - which now joins freight companies SCT Logistics and Linfox at Parkes - is the result of three levels of government working together and partnering with a private sector.
Mr Toole said Parkes is an area they want to see investment happening, attributing this as the reason for announcing the town as the location for a Special Activation Precinct.
"...[We want] to see businesses locating to this area, to actually come off the back of what Pacific National is doing," he said.
"So we can actually open the door and make it easier for businesses to be attracted here, to make that investment, then that's a good outcome for Parkes and the wider community, because it's creating jobs, generating employment and it's driving the local economy."
"We've got communities that are doing it tough in drought and I think we all acknowledge and know that but I think Parkes in many respects is defying that."
Parkes Shire Council has long championed the vision of a national logistics hub.
"Indeed on a day like today, it is [important] to remember the passion and dedicated efforts of the late great Parkes mayor Robert Wilson," said Russell Smith, who spoke on behalf of the Pacific National Board on Wednesday.
"He saw clearly the full potential of Parkes being at the epicentre of Australian freight and his legacy lives on through the current leadership of Ken Keith.
"The Australian Government has helped to support the council's vision by starting construction of Inland Rail and related works... And of course the NSW Government has streamlined planning at Parkes by establishing a Special Activation Precinct - the first of its type in the state."
Mr Smith said more than 90 workers will be deployed at the new terminal, including locomotive drivers, train crews, forklift drivers and administration staff.
Being at the intersection of the Sydney to Perth rail line, the future Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail corridor and the Newell Highway, Mr Dalla Valle said "Parkes is the perfect place to establish a major logistics terminal".
Once fully operational, he said, the terminal will have the capacity to consolidate and process about 450,000 shipping containers each year.
"It's quite amazing to think just 12 months ago this was a paddock," he said.
"Under different names, our company has been moving freight for more than 160 years and this facility will help ensure we continue to find ways to enhance our quality services for our customers for many more years to come.
"Like many other regional communities, Parkes has been subjected to the full brunt of a devastating drought... But like everyone today, Pacific National sees a tremendous future for this town, for its people and not to mention, the wider region.
"Once the Inland Rail project is complete our customers can use Parkes as a launching pad to move goods and commodities more efficiently to all four corners of our nation.
"I hope our investment here at Parkes provides some added momentum to this critical project."
Mr Dalla Valle said he looked forward to a long and constructive association with Parkes and Parkes Shire Council in the future, and admitted he was already considering his Elvis outfit.
But the most touching and sentimental moment during the ceremony came when Parkes mayor Ken Keith OAM spoke.
He also praised the efforts of former council staff members' involvements, the late Robert Wilson as well as former General Manager Alan McCormack for setting the foundations.
"This is a nostalgic moment for me today," said the mayor - the Pacific National terminal sitting on the land that's been in the Keith family for almost 100 years. More on this story later.
Because of that Pacific National decided to name their internal road Ken Keith OAM Drive, presenting the road sign to Cr Keith following the speeches.
Parkes elder Lionel Lovett gave the Welcome to Country at the ceremony and Parkes Public School Cultural Dance Group also performed for the guests.
Among those in attendance was Forbes mayor Phyllis Miller and former roads and freight minister Duncan Gay.
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