Queensland Rail Trail News

Lockyer Creek Bridge before the upgrade (Damain McCrohan)

Queensland Rail Trail News

Latest Updates from Rail Trail Connections

Posted on 08.11.2018

RTA President Damian McCrohan first visited Queensland for rail trails in 2004 when the only real rail trails were a short urban section in Hervey Bay and a short section of the now Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. There have been increasingly bigger improvements evident at each visit since.

I had the opportunity to have a good look at Queensland’s rail trails again in September and there has been even greater progress since my last visit. The Queensland Government is really assisting rail trails now and there is real excitement about how rail trails benefit communities.
There is nothing like meeting local groups and government to understand how they want to develop and use rail trails. For proposed rail trails it is an opportunity to get the visit covered in media and raise the profile of the rail trail idea in the community.

Below is a summary of the rail trails I visited, with more detail about major developments in following articles.

Damian McCrohan
President, Rail Trails Australia
For more information visit: http://bit.ly/RTA-Queensland

Bethania to Beaudesert

This is a potential 43km rail trail that will start just south of Brisbane on the suburban train network. It would be a terrific asset for local commuting and recreation, along with attracting visitors, particularly from Brisbane. There hasn’t been a lot of progress, but the corridor is still being of use to the community through training programs, which is keeping it on the Councils’ agenda. More on this project in the next edition.

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Near Toogoolawah a new rail trail support business, Out There Cycling, provides bicycle hire, transport (also to the Kilkivan to Kingaroy Rail Trail), servicing and even skills training. A real asset to enable more visitors use these rail trails. I rode from Toogoolawah to Moore and found this section to have the best surface with a generally smooth gravel surface. The low level crossings are of a high standard, but some of them are still quite steep. There is one bridge in this section. Hopefully this standard can be extended to other sections over time to make them available to a wider cross-section of the community.

Kilkivan to Kingaroy Rail Trail

Following the opening last year and the bridges article in last summer’s issue I was keen to see our newest rail trail. I was fortunate enough to have an afternoon with the South Burnett Council project engineer responsible for the 43km Murgon to Kingaroy section. His ‘design for purpose’ approach has delivered a great rail trail complete with almost all bridges, interpretive signage, road crossings, sealed surface and even lighting in Murgon, undertaken at a very modest cost. It really is a great example of a rail trail and is already integral to many community activities and events, along with attracting visitors, so a real asset to the community.

Fraser Coast (Hervey Bay) Rail Trail

The now Fraser Coast Council have been slowly but steadily extending this rail trail over the last two decades. In town it is a very high quality rail trail, suitable for all members of the community and with most of it lit. It now extends from the very long pier through Pialba to the town limits at Nikenbah, all well used. Council opened the first section to extend it towards Maryborough this year, whilst not as high a standard as the town section it is still a good standard. However until the crossing of the busy Hervey Bay to Maryborough Highway is resolved, it is technically two different sections.

Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail

Over many decades the Queensland Railways constructed an inland railway loop that extended from Mungar (south of Maryborough) to near Gladstone; a total of 406km! The separate article by the rail trail committee notes that a feasibility study has commenced on the 269km section from Gayndah to Taragoola near Calliope (near Gladstone).

I had the opportunity to have a good look at some of the 37km Gayndah to Mundubbera ‘Burnett River’ section, which is quite close to the river in places and has a remarkable number of heritage listed bridges. RTA understands that the feasibility study does not include the 5km from Gayndah to Reid Creek as the railway is being retained from Mungar to Reid Creek for possible future use. Unfortunately the major Reid Creek bridge was washed away in the 2013 floods but RTA believe a rail trail from Gayndah to Reid Creek will be popular with locals and may eventually allow a continuous rail trail from Gayndah to Mundubbera.

The 74km Monto to Builyan section is very picturesque with the part from Kalpowar down the Dawes Range to Many Peaks being particularly spectacular. I obtained permission from Queensland Railways to walk the six tunnels near Kalpowar and there were some magnificent views to be enjoyed as I admired the engineering involved. The increasing support of the Queensland Government can be seen in the actions of the Transport and Main Roads Department who are actively seeking solutions to retain particularly critical bridges on some sections of the corridor which will make those sections of the rail trail feasible, and enjoyable.

Capricorn Coast Pineapple Rail Trail

Despite natural disasters befalling the 4.5km Yeppoon section soon after it opened, this high standard rail trail is now very well used. I spoke at a well attended community meeting where Livingstone Council outlined that they are seeking funding for a detailed study into extending the rail trail towards Rockhampton.

RTA encourages the community to push Council to make this a priority given the developments occurring in other parts of the state. Like Hervey Bay an immediate issue in extending the trail is the crossing of the busy Yeppoon Rockhampton Road. The Yeppoon coastal area is improving all the time and is a real holiday spot. More detail below on a study into re-use of station area which is encouraging, as initially the whole area was at risk of being sold off for commercial development. Some Rockhampton residents are now advocating for a study into the corridor from Rockhampton west to Mount Morgan.

Atherton Tablelands Rail Trail

I didn’t have the opportunity to get this far north during this visit but the Friends of the Atherton Tablelands Rail Trail reports that the first step to extending the rail trail 24km up the range to Herberton is happening. The 1.8km Platypus Park to Hasties Road shared trail should be finished as this goes to print. It is beside the rail line as the Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway group would like to reopen this section as a tourist railway.

Other Stories

Queensland Government Rail Trail Funding

In June 2018 the Queensland Government will invest over $67.5 million into the design and construction of high-priority bike riding infrastructure across Queensland in 2018-19 and $240 million over four years to boost Queensland’s bike riding culture.

Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said investment in safer bike riding infrastructure would help people to enjoy active and healthy travel. He said Queensland’s landscape had changed, with dozens of big ticket bike riding projects under construction or completed.

There is $14 million rail trail program to support local governments to develop trails for bike riding, walking and horse riding on disused state-owned rail corridors and will be able to use the funding to plan, design and construct rail trails, requiring a co-contribution for construction projects. “Rail trails support active, healthy lifestyles, allow for the innovative use of disused state-owned infrastructure, and contribute to environmental preservation and management,” Mr Bailey said. “We have an extensive network of disused railway corridors and it is government policy to retain them for future transport use.”

In September 2018 the first round of grants were awarded to councils to undertake feasibility studies. Member for Gladstone, Glenn Butcher, said the following Councils were awarded funding:
Bundaberg Regional Council was awarded $92,000 to undertake a feasibility study on the Bundaberg to Gin Gin rail corridor

Gladstone Regional Council and North Burnett Regional Council partnered to undertake a feasibility study on the Gayndah to Taragoola rail corridor and were awarded $99,000.
“These councils submitted comprehensive proposals and we are pleased to partner with them to deliver these rail trails in their communities. We are also working with several other councils to finalise EOIs.”

Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey thanked the Palaszczuk Government for its support.
“The feasibility study will consider the potential use and benefits of a rail trail, along with necessary works and any issues that need to be addressed,” Cr Dempsey said. “It will enable informed consideration of the proposal by Council and the community.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the opening of the final stage of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail last month demonstrated the power of bicycle tourism.
“Support for bicycle tourism opportunities, including rail trails, is a feature of our Queensland Cycling Strategy 2017-27,” he said. “The Palaszczuk Government has been a strong supporter of the development of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail over many years.

“It has attracted significant numbers of visitors, events and, importantly, tourism dollars for communities along the route. Other councils with disused rail corridors should get in quick and submit EOIs to avoid missing out on this unique opportunity.”

For more information on cycling in Queensland, including the Queensland Cycling Strategy 2017-27 and the PNCPs visit
www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Travel-and-transport/cycling

Historic Lockyer Creek Railway Bridge gets $4.5m upgrade

The historic rail bridge over Lockyer Creek on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) is undergoing a $4.5 million refurbishment, due for completion by November, making it a major tourist attraction and improving the usability of the rail trail. (see image above)

The 1886 historic timber bridge requires refurbishment and will enable rail trail users to avoid a low level creek crossing with a steep descent and climb on the embankment. Stablisation works were completed by the Transport and Main Roads Department last year and the next phase of restoration involves replacing all timber components, and abrasive blasting and repainting of the steel truss. A new pedestrian walkway will then be installed, delivering an all-weather, safe crossing over Lockyer Creek.

Jim Madden MP for Ipswich West is a former Councillor who has been a long-time support of the bridge refurbishment and is pleased to see this key link in the BVRT. Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said he hoped the final trail would rival the Otago Rail Trail in New Zealand and the Great Victorian Rail Trail in Victoria.

Rail Trails Australia notes that this will easily be the most expensive rail trail bridge reconstruction in Australia but will preserve and allow use of this historic bridge. When opened it will remove the steepest and potentially hazardous low level crossing on the rail trail and, as noted by Mr Madden, will help bring the BVRT closer to achieving its potential.

Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail

Community groups from Gladstone to Maryborough have been lobbying the Queensland Government for the past six years on the future of the rail corridor, which has not been in use since 2002. Ideas raised include using sections of the tracks as working rail through to developing the corridor for use as a recreational trail to showcase old infrastructure and attract tourism to the towns and districts along its path.

In 2017, Cr Desley O’Grady (Gladstone Regional Council) facilitated a number of community forums to gain support from residents, community groups and businesses alike who showed significant interest in preserving the rail corridor between Gayndah to Taragoola (Calliope). Attendees represented 14 different community groups including horse-riders, walkers, cycling and historians. They ranged from areas including Gladstone, Calliope, Nagoorin, Ubobo, Boyne Valley, Kalpower, Bancroft, Mungungo, Monto and Gayndah.

Meetings are continuing on a monthly basis and Department of Transport representatives have been regular attendees, providing updates on their Asset Removal project plans and considering and supporting our requests to save sections of line, sleepers and timber bridges that would have otherwise been removed for good. All works in the North Burnett region has now been completed and Queensland Rail are now in the process of handing the assets over to the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Work has commenced in the Boyne Valley Gladstone region and we are continuing to lobby to save infrastructure that could benefit the proposed rail trail.

Since 2017 interest from the community has grown. We have also been successful in stopping work on the removal of line and hog-back sleepers through an historic series of six tunnels that would showcase the proposed rail trail attracting visitors from afar. We hope to save all (or at least section) of this line and sleepers. However, the outcomes of a feasibility study supported by the North Burnett and Gladstone Regional Councils and funded by the Queensland Government will be our guiding light. The feasibility study of 269km of rail corridor is due to be completed mid 2019. We are privileged to have both councils very supportive of our goals. It will be a matter of the financial costs vs. economic benefits and financial support from Queensland and Commonwealth governments that will see continued Council support into the future.

Our group has ‘steamed’ along well and has now formed an incorporated body, ‘Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail Inc.’ challenged with facilitating a proposed development of the rail corridor from Taragoola (near Gladstone, Central Queensland), through the Boyne Valley, on to Monto, Eidsvold, Mundubbera and south through Gayndah.
More information can be viewed on our website: www.boyneburnettinlandrailtrail.org.au

We are encouraging memberships from individuals, groups and businesses as funding will be needed to maintain momentum. We also hope that those interested join our mailing list for regular updates and participate in our online survey. Check us out on Facebook too!

Vicki Mackay
Secretary BBIRT Inc.

More at: http://bit.ly/RTA-Queensland

Mark Linnett
Qld Representative, Rail Trails Australia
mlinnett@railtrails.org.au

Yeppoon heritage rail precinct steams ahead

The 2.4ha Yeppoon Station precinct could have been sold off, which would have been a wasted opportunity in light of the fine examples highlighted in the last issue of Rail Trail Connections outlining where communities are making good use of these precincts. However, this is no longer the case and the Queensland government has called for Expressions of Interest in the renewal of Yeppoon’s heritage rail precinct.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, said the private sector should get involved in this exciting development opportunity, to be known as Station Quarter, in the heart of Yeppoon. “I’m calling on all interested parties who have the capability and capacity to work with the State Government’s specialist land use planning and property development unit, Economic Development Queensland, to unlock Yeppoon’s historic past and deliver a vibrant precinct that meets market demands and local needs,” Mr Dick said.

“The proposed master plan site will incorporate repurposing the heritage railway building and platform, enhancing community facilities andopen spaces, and mixed-use develop-ment incorporating opportunities for residential, commercial and retail uses.”

Member for Keppel, Brittany Lauga, said the station has been an important part of the community for many years and she was delighted to see the project progressing. “People want this site to provide multiple uses, where they can spend quality time with family and friends, and tourists can relax and enjoy,” Mrs Lauga said.
Livingston Shire Council Mayor, Bill Ludwig, says the development will greatly benefit the community and deliver a long-term economic boost.

“Thanks to the fantastic support of the Queensland Government, this is yet another exciting opportunity to revitalise the local area while embracing Yeppoon’s historical past,” Mayor Ludwig said.

For further details about the Yeppoon Heritage Rail precinct, visit www.qld.gov.au/yeppoon

Australia’s longest rail trail

The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) follows the Old Yarraman Creek Railway line From Wulkuraka to Yarraman for 161km and is now the longest in Australia (and New Zealand). The celebration of the opening of the final 30km was held on 8 September.

The morning started off like any other Queensland rail trail opening, ‘WET’, but the rain stopped before I arrived at Moore. BVRT Ambassadors provided a big breakfast for cyclists, walkers and horse riders, along with live music. Several hundred people attended the opening at the old Moore Station for the final $3.4m 30km link of the BVRT, Moore to Toogoolawah.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor, Graeme Lehmann, opened the plaque (well kind of – the wind had already done it to the delight of the crowd). This final section has a variety of scenery, including the Brisbane River, a beautifully restored bridge over Jimmy’s Gully, and the BVRT’s one and only tunnel. So, after years of delays and two major floods, the final section was open – making the BVRT its full 161km.

A big thank you must be given to Commonwealth, State and Local Governments over the years for all the funding to construct Australia’s longest Rail Trail, and not forgetting all the volunteer groups that have worked hard to improve the whole BVRT. Well done to all!

For more information visit: http://bit.ly/RTA-Queensland
Mark Linnett
Rail Trails Australia’s QLD representative

Esk Caravan Park ( on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail)

Located away from the Highway in a quiet and peaceful parkland setting, boasting mountain views, a creek boundary, animal and bird life, and situated within easy walking distance to restaurants and shops.

The caravan park now has 8 brand new 2018 Trek Roscoe 7 bikes available to hire for anyone wanting to ride the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.

Contact the park’s friendly office team on 07 5424 1466 or info@eskcaravanpark.com.au to make a booking, or book online at www.eskcaravanpark.com.au

Fraser Coast Rail Trail Developments

The 13.5km Link Mobility Corridor meanders through Hervey Bay following the former rail line which serviced the Urangan Pier. Council purchased the land from the Queensland Government in 1992 and transformed it into a pedestrian-friendly mobility corridor. The rail trail nowwinds through farmland and bush and connects Urangan with the central business district in Pialba, the growing medical precinct at Urraween before heading off in the hinterland. A 3.5km section from the edge of the city to Stockyard Creek is the start of the Mary to Bay Rail Trail.

In August 2017 the most recent section was opened – a 3.5km stretch from Piggford Lane at Nikenbah to Stockyard Creek where steam trains would pull up to take on water.

Council received $1m under the Queensland Government’s $200 million Works for Queensland Funding Program for the project, which included replacing two wooden bridges.

The corridor links seamlessly into the another bike path – the 12.5 km-long shared walk/cycle path along the foreshore that links the Urangan Boat Harbour to Gatakers Bay.

More information on bike and recreation trails around the Fraser coast is available at www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/recreation

Kevin Corcoran
Fraser Coast Council

Source
Rail Trail Connections (Spring 2018)
Rail Trails Australia

Published courtesy of 
Damian McCrohan
President
Rail Trails Australia

 

 

 

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