When Hayley and Tom Levett purchased their 550ha property east of Walkaway, they were hoping it would be a “generational block”. They spent tens of thousands renovating the home, landscaping, building horseyards and establishing gardens in the hope that one day, they could pass it down to one of their children. In a heartbreaking twist, their hopes have been dashed. The young family are now staring down the barrel of a major lifestyle and business shock, with the latest Dongara-Geraldton-Northampton route alignment threatening to cut their cattleyards in half, their paddocks into triangles and restrict access to their own paddocks. The State Government believes it is “absolutely essential” to address safety and congestion issues as the Mid West grows and traffic volumes increase, but it has left affected residents with a bad taste in their mouth. The contentious heavy haulage bypass is set to be built at the end of the Levett’s driveway. The worst part — they found out about it on Facebook. “It was a bit of a rude shock,” Mrs Levett said. “The media release came out before any consultation that we know of — that was a kick in the guts. “We found out via Facebook basically, that they had already done extensive consultation with us and they were pretty pleased that it only impacted four homesteads, not 10, as previously. “It was that day that they called my parents-in-law actually to say, ‘oh, yeah, by the way, would you like a meeting with us?’” Adding insult to injury, the Levetts were a loud voice in the fight against the original route alignment proposed in 2020, which caused a major public outcry and a race to get a petition against it to Parliament. Ending up with more than 200 signatures, Main Roads was forced to investigate alternative routes. “We helped fight that and then to hear that it’s coming in front of our house is like, ‘wow, thanks,’” Mrs Levett said. The realignment is set to significantly jeopardise Mrs Levett’s income, as the mother of three just two months ago quit her job at the bank to run 150 Angus/Murray grey/Limousin cattle. Cutting over the top of her cattleyards, splitting her paddocks into three and cutting off access to two, she would be forced to run a far smaller herd or run no stock at all. If she did, she would have to seek access through her neighbour’s properties to tend to her cattle. “It will no longer be viable,” she said. “I basically won’t be able to run them and if I did, it would probably only be a quarter of the number I’ve got here.” It will also impact the cropping side of the business, with some of their best paddocks turned to triangles, making it difficult to manoeuvre big machinery through during seeding and harvest. Earmarked for 100m west of their quiet, neighbourless home on Criddle Road, it will also significantly impact the lifestyle they hoped for their three children. In place of their tranquil ocean view, will be a 500m wide bypass frequented by road trains travelling at 100km/h. “Where we lived before we had kids was only 100m from Arthur road and people fly along that and that’s why we chose not to renovate that place,” Mrs Levett said. “So this is obviously quite upsetting. “I want my kids to have freedom and no danger . . . it’s lovely here, they go off on their own 100m down the driveway and climb trees, there’s not really any immediate danger for them.” If it does get approved, Mrs Levett said they would likely leave, which would be “heartbreaking” after years renovating what they hoped would be their “forever” home. “All that sort of work is for your own pleasure, it doesn’t add on to the saleable valuable of rural land,” she said. “We knew that, but because we thought we’d live here forever it was a choice we were happy to make.” There is a lot of historical land owned by branches of the Levett family, with Mr Levett’s grandfather Hugh one of 10 who grew up in a now 153-year-old homestead between Walkaway and Moonyoonooka, his children since buying up land in the surrounding areas. Much of that land is now in jeopardy. The revised route is set to cut straight through the historic homestead, which has been handed down to his granddaughter Alana Birnie. Mr Levett’s parents, Dean and Rosemary who live on the Nangetty-Walkaway Road will also be impacted. There are also concerns over the Moonyoonooka Store’s future, with owner Gary Davidson given little reassurance it would not be affected. Mrs Levett slammed the lack of consultation ahead of the realignment and said a new petition was circulating against the latest route. “It’s a really rude way of them going about it we think — it’s not nice,” she said. The big question on residents lips — “why?” With the Brand Highway, Edwards Road and Arthur Road all running in the same direction, the Mid West community is scratching their heads as to why one of the existing roads could not be widened instead. “It’s more economic and sustainable you would think,” Mrs Levett said. “The whole world’s about zero carbon, less emissions and less impact on the environment, so how can they justify building a whole new road when there’s already three existing roads heading towards Geraldton? “Who’s actually asking for it? They can’t just go, ‘no, too bad we’re sticking a road through your farm’ when there’s already other roads. It’s just crazy.” A spokesman for the Department of Transport said at times one in every five vehicles on the Brand Highway was a truck and the “safe and efficient” bypass would remove heavy vehicles from town sites and other populated areas. “We undertook extensive engagement with the community which helped to determine the final preferred corridor for the project, and at all times, minimising the impact on landowners and homes has been a key consideration,” he said. Mrs Levett said they had a meeting with Main Roads following the announcement which “went well,” but they were upset about the lack of consultation prior to it being announced. The spokesperson said Main Roads had been personally contacting potentially affected residents and would continue to do so “until all landowners have had the opportunity to discuss the optimised investigation corridor”.