Bitumen is one of industrial capitalism’s great foundational inventions. A well-rolled-out piece of road carries so many transformative effects – on the comfort of the ride, on the rate of accidents, on the longevity of vehicles and, perhaps most crucially for capitalism, on the precious time taken to get from A to B. Rolling out bitumen continues to be the cornerstone of so many nation-making projects, in blind disregard of the environ mental havoc wrought by our history of transport. I was pondering all of this last month as I drove the Tanami Highway, a road that stretches just over 1000 kilometres from where it forks from the Stuart Highway twenty kilometres north of Alice Springs, to its north-westerly end point at Halls Creek in the Kimberley.
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