Important milestone for rail trail project
IT IS nearly two years since Gladstone councillor Desley O'Grady hosted the first community meeting, in December 2017, about the project which would become the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail.
With the milestone fast approaching, the group, which wants to develop a series of recreational trails along the disused rail corridor between Taragoola and Gayndah, has received a boost in the form of two key processes commencing.
The first is that Gladstone Regional Council, the lead agency on the project, has begun work on a design and development plan for the three trails identified by a feasibility study.
The group is dependent on the support of GRC and also the North Burnett Regional Council, as only local governments are able to apply for certain funding viewed by the group as critical to the trail's development.
Cr O'Grady said the council intends on applying to the Department of Transport and Main Roads for funding to actually construct the trails.
The second milestone is that the group has finally been granted an access licence by TMR, meaning community groups involved in the project can begin performing maintenance work on the track between Taragoola to Many Peaks, and Kalpowar to Monto.
The access licence for between Many Peaks and Kalpowar will be granted once the line is removed from this section by recycling firm Denpaq.
BBIRT sister organisation, Gayndah Heritage Railway Rail Trail, already has an access licence and has been working on the Burnett River Bridges section of the trail, which runs from Mundubbera to near Mt Debateable.
According to president Mark McLachlan, TMR has advised that landholders adjoining the corridor can apply for licences to graze the corridor by contacting the group.
Mr McLachlan said the project's importance to the region was impressed upon the committee at the August opening of 'The Link Cycle Path' which connects the Kilkivan-Kingaroy and Brisbane Valley Rail Trails.
"The growth in usage of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail has been so great that all competition
bike rides along the corridor have had to be discontinued," he said.
"Small towns such as Moore and Blackbutt have experienced considerable economic
growth from the trail through their towns."
Mr McLachlan also said the State Government was "fully supportive" of rail trail development.
Up to $14 million will be invested over four years between 2017-18 and 2020-21 to support local governments to plan, design and construct rail trails.
The committee was especially impressed by a start-up business, Out There Cycling, formed predominantly to service the booming trade on the BVRT, organising tours, transport, bike hire and servicing.
Owner Josie Sheehan said, such was the demand, her part-time side business became a full-time job in February 2018 when she and her husband moved from Brisbane to Toogoolawah, employing an apprentice in the process.
Ms Sheehan said as the trail has become more renowned, it has begun even attracting overseas visitors, including from New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Coming from a region such as the North Burnett, which is desperate to attract more tourists and more industry, it is easy to see why the committee is so taken by the example of Out There Cycling.