Thanks again for your continued support to make a rail trail happen in the Northern Rivers.
Since our last update in October, we’ve been continuing to build community, political and professional support for a rail trail to be created in the Northern Rivers.
We can’t do it without the backing of locals, community groups, politicians, businesses and all kinds of people like you! If you know of someone who might be interested in making a rail trail happen, spread the word and pass on this email.
Best wishes for a safe and happy festive season from the NRRT Inc team.
In this issue:
NRRT Inc presents petition to MPs and meets with successful NZ trailblazer
Since May 2013, members and supporters of the NRRT have been collecting signatures for a petition which calls on the NSW Legislative Assembly to back the investigation and building of a multi-use rail trail on the disused railway corridor that runs between Casino and Murwillumbah, via Byron Bay.
When Minister for the North Coast and Minister for Local Government, Don Page announced that Arup Pty Ltd had won the tender to conduct the scoping study of the concept, we felt the time was right to present the petition to Mr Page and Member for Lismore, Thomas George. Mr Page, who spoke about the rail trail concept in Parliament in August, was delighted to see we had collected so many signatures and is happy to present the petition to the Assembly.
Also at the petition handover was former CEO of the Queenstown Trails Trust, Kaye Parker, who was a driving force behind the creation of the Queenstown Trail – a network of more than 110km of walking and cycling tracks throughout the Wakatipu region in New Zealand.
The Queenstown Trail smashed the initial prediction that it would attract 35,000 visitors per year for the first 5 years after it’s creation. Word of the new trail travelled fast and in the first 9 months, a whopping 107,000 people came to enjoy it. Kaye met with us to discuss our rail trail concept and impart her knowledge of how to create a successful trail in the Northern Rivers.
To find out how you can explore the gorgeous Queenstown Trail visit www.queenstowntrail.co.nz.
(Photo above: Former CEO of the Queenstown Trails Trust, Kaye Parker, MP Thomas George, NRRT Public Liaison Officer, Marie Lawton, MP Don Page, NRRT Chairman, Pat Grier)
Rail trail will achieve Regional Development priority
In their recent Northern Rivers Regional Plan 2013 – 2016, Regional Development Australia – Northern Rivers (RDA-NR) recently identified priorities, initiatives and activities which align with their vision to create a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for the communities of the Northern Rivers communities.
The RDA-NR’s Regional Plan used the Casino – Murwillumbah rail trail as an example of an initiative which it will support because a rail trail would use existing or ageing infrastructure to meet future needs.
In line with the Council of Australian Government (COAG)’s key foundations of long-term regional economic growth, the Plan identified 7 priorities, including creating and supporting connected communities; a learning region; natural infrastructure; sustainable industry; inclusive communities; regional identity; and a collaborative region.
A rail trail would contribute to meeting the priority of creating a connected community. To download and read the Northern Rivers Regional Plan 2013 – 2016 visit the RDA-NR website.
Supporting light rail in Byron Bay
Considering the daily traffic congestion facing Byron Bay locals and visitors, it’s easy to see how a light rail shuttle service between the North Byron Beach Resort at Belongil and the CBD can benefit the community and tourists alike – so we were delighted with the Byron Shire Council’s unanimous vote in favour of such a service this month.
The proposal was put forward by the developers of the North Byron Beach Resort, who anticipate that it will be possible to convert the Belongil Creek Bridge (pictured above) so that it can be used by a 100-seater vintage 660 series railmotor as well as cyclists and walkers.
If it gets the go-ahead, the park and ride project could be in operation by December 2014 and provide 10 shuttle services a day at $3 per one-way ride.
We see this proposal as a win-win for the council, community, train enthusiasts, tourists, walkers and cyclists!
(Photo above: Belongil Creek, north of Byron Bay, courtesy of Jerry Pressnell)
NRRT could be a brilliant rail trail
In November, NRRT Inc invited Vice President of Rail Trails Australia, Steven Kaye, to have a guided tour of a section of the rail corridor. Steven knows what to look for in a potential rail trail – Rail Trails Australia is a not-for-profit organisation which works for the development and promotion of an Australia-wide rail trail network – so we were keen to find out what he thought of our rail corridor.
Secretary of NRRT Inc, Steve Martin, and his son Jackson (pictured above) met Mr Kaye and Tweed Shire Councillor, Phil Youngblutt, and Director of Engineering and Operations of the Tweed Shire Council and NRRT Inc member, Patrick Knight, at the site of the 2.5km pilot rail trail project between Murwillumbah Station and the Tweed River Art Gallery which at this stage will be the first and only length of the track to be converted into a multi-use trail.
As we toured around the Art Gallery, locals were interested to find out what we were looking at. From these conversations, it seems that some people are unaware of the rail trail concept but once we explained what a rail trail is, every person that we spoke to was excited about the idea.
The tour also included visits to Stokers Siding, Mooball and Bangalow. At the end of the day, Steven said “the disused Northern Rivers railway is an unbelievable opportunity, it could be a brilliant rail trail. You’ve got everything here – you’ve got the beautiful small towns and you’ve got the tourism.” Of course, we completely agree!
To find out about other rail trails around the country, visit the Rail Trails Australia website at http://www.railtrails.org.au/.
(Photo above, left to right: Steve Martin, Jackson Martin, Clr Phil Youngblutt, Steven Kaye, Patrick Knight)
Show your support with a NRRT Inc t-shirt
Spread the word in style! Back design and male cut is shown here; front design and female cut is modeled by Marie in the first image of this update above. Men’s shirts are available in sizes medium and large while women’s shirts are available in sizes 10, 12 and 14. Price: $25. Bumper stickers are also available – 5 for $10. For enquiries, orders and pick-up points, email Marie via firstname.lastname@example.org.