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Tumbarumba trumps Byron Bay for NSW rail trail funding

Alia Parker's picture
Tumbarumba to Rosewood rail trail proposed site. Cycle Traveller

The rolling hills to the north-east of the Snowy Mountains have emerged as the preferred location for NSW's first government-funded rail trail, leaving plans for a trail through Byron Bay up in the air.

Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro announced Friday that a scenic 21km stretch of unused rail corridor from Tumbarumba to Rosewood in southern NSW had been chosen from a group of 12 projects for potential development under the state government's Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

“Tumbarumba Shire Council put forward the strongest application which sought $5 million for the Tumbarumba to Rosewood rail trail,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Further work is required in order for the proposal to be fully developed and then further evaluated, but the proposed trail would potentially run through some of the most scenic countryside in NSW and help to link vineyards, a museum and other small businesses.”

Twelve rail trail projects across the state applied for funding, with the Northern Rivers Rail Trail from Casino to Murwillumbah via Byron Bay widely considered to be the favourite. While the details of all 12 contenders was not made public, it is known that the Casino to Murwillumbah project had not only applied for funding but was a key instigator in the government's initial decision to invest in rail trails.

However, Mr Barilaro said in a statement that there had been a number of “differing views” among six separate applications for development along the Casino to Murwillumbah line. That, combined with the much higher costs of development, likely played a part in its failure to secure funding at this stage.

“There was a wide range of proposals for projects along the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line but some differing views as to the best model and a range of views and options for investment,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Further work will be necessary before we can progress proposals on that corridor.”

Northern Rivers Rail Trail president Pat Crier told Echonetdaily that while the group was disappointed in missing out on funding this time, the selection of the much shorter Tumbarumba to Rosewood proposal was nevertheless a positive step in introducing rail trails into NSW. The group remains positive about the prospects for a rail trail in its region.

Mr Barilaro said Tumbarumba Shire Council will now be invited to work on the development of the Tumbarumba to Rosewood pilot rail trail project with other NSW Government agencies.

“The Government feels the Tumbarumba proposal is worthy of further investigation as we progress this pilot process,” he said.

“Council’s application demonstrated an effective plan for community consultation, a viable operating model and potential for the initiative to generate economic and tourism benefits for the region.”

If successful, the Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail has the potential to be extended further, such as to picturesque Humula along the line to Wagga Wagga.

Image: A section of unused rail line between Tumbarumba and Rosewood in southern NSW. Source: Tumbarumba Shire Rail Trail.

Comments

Paul62's picture

To say I am disappointed in the selection process for a rail trail is an understatement. The only reason I can see Tumbarumba to Rosewood being selected is its proximity to the Victorian rail trails. Government must be hoping that this location will have a flow over effect from Victoria. Even if it is extended to the Humula area it will be a long time in coming as access to the old line is fraught with logistical problems ( construction stage), so the $5 million will blow out very quickly and the "I told you so" people will be crowing and any future trails will have a serious uphill climb to gain funding.

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