Petition for a world-class rail trail through Byron Bay gathers support
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A petition to develop a disused stretch of railway through Byron Bay in northern NSW is gathering momentum as proponents rally to keep the issue in the spotlight.
"We must keep the momentum going and the next step is a feasibility study so we can make this happen,” supporter of the plan, Tweed mayor Barry Longland, told the Gold Coast Bulletin in May.
The petition by the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc. aims to turn a 132km disused rail corridor between Casino and Murwillumbah into a public space for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. The group says time is of the essence, with conditions on the line, which closed in 2004, rapidly deteriorating.
The potential trail has garnered local support as it is seen as a valuable tourism asset to the region that would encourage tourists to Byron Bay to explore the greater area.
“Byron Bay is a premium global destination with an established international tourist demographic highly likely to make use of the trail,” the not-for-profit Rail2Trail organisation says on its website. “The trail could provide valuable community and tourism infrastructure for short distances (in and around Byron Bay), medium distances (Murwillumbah to Stokers Siding) as well as a full range of options for longer journeys up to 130 kilometres.
It says a rail trail from Bangalow to Byron Bay through to Mullumbimby has the potential to become one of the great trails of the world. Byron Bay is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations, with four times more visitors than Uluru, according to RailTrails Australia. It also notes that the trail would also be just an hour's drive away from the Gold Coast.
Adding to the potential for tourism dollars, RailTrails Australia says a trail on the old Northern Rivers line would be the only rail trail in the world to pass through a World Heritage region. The region is also renowned for its good weather and beautiful scenery.
The transformation of such an expanse of disused rail line would be a costly exercise, but one viewed as well worth it due to the benefits it will bring, not only as a tourist draw card, but for an outdoor recreational space for locals as well as the protection and upkeep of the environment along the corridor.
Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc. will present the petition to the Minister for Local Government and the North Coast, Don Page. You can sign the petition at CommunityRun.org.
Images: Naughtons Gap Tunnel on the disused Northern Rivers Railway. 2. Map of the 132km railway line. (Images via Rail2Trail.org)