Rail trail plan moves into top gear across Northern Rivers
KEEN cyclists and walkers from across the Northern Rivers are backing proposed trails on disused rail lines.
The Northern Rivers Rail Trails (NRRT) group, set up in 2013, has asked state and federal governments for a multi-million-dollar grant to start the project.
NRRT treasurer and regular bike rider Marie Lawton said rail trails were established all over the world and in every state of Australia, apart from NSW.
"We're hoping to get $13 million so we can start building the rail trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek," she said.
"That'd pay for a detailed plan and then for the build - the path, fix bridges and tunnels, do signage…
"It's a very expensive business.
"Supporters are also working on trying to get the legislation changed so that district railway lines can be used for rail trails."
Ms Lawton said rail trails would attract cyclists, walkers and horse riders of all ages to boost the regional economy and create jobs.
"There's a whole group of seniors in this region who love to ride bikes," she said.
"All the politicians we've spoken to think a rail trail is a great idea."
Ms Lawton has ridden trails in the Otago region of New Zealand and in Victoria.
"You could just see that the Otago region in NZ was pretty much a wasteland," she said.
Installing a rail trail on a disused line has turned Otago into a popular destination for travellers.
NRRT delegates went to Sydney in March for a statewide launch of the Make It Happen campaign to set up rail trails in NSW.
Tweed councillor Barry Longland outlined the proposal to establish a Tweed Valley Rail Trail along the disused rail corridor from Murwillumbah to Wooyung.
"This campaign and its launch will be important steps in getting rail trails projects off the ground in NSW and to start seeing the benefits that are being enjoyed by so many similar projects in other parts of Australia and in other countries," Cr Longland said.
"We are confident the Tweed Valley Rail Trail remains very well-positioned to be one of the first rail trails in NSW, because of the project's massive potential and the amount of planning and investigations that have already gone into it.
"The incredible scenic beauty of the corridor route, through areas including three World Heritage-listed national parks, and its close proximity to major population centres and tourism hubs, give it huge potential to be one of the most successful trails in this part of the world."
The 24km trail would link historic villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes Creek.
NRRT is hoping the Tweed Valley Rail Trail will be the first leg of a 130km Northern Rivers Rail Trail from Murwillumbah to Casino.