Political battle to spark tourist trade
AS ONE bid to boost tourism along the old rail corridor ramps up, behind closed doors another has quietly come to an end.
After three years of inactivity, the Burnett Boyne Rail Line Preservation Group has disbanded, donating their remaining $2233 to local community groups Monto Magic and the Monto Historical Society.
Their vision was to create a self-sustainable tourist attraction on a section of the disused track.
The proposed Monto Rail Adventures would develop and operate a light rail through the Dawes Range tunnels from Kalpowar to Golembil.
They found a New Zealand company to supply purpose-built rail cars, submitted a detailed business plan to the Department of Transport and Main Roads and expressed interest in obtaining a peppercorn lease of a 17.2 kilometre stretch of line from Queensland Rail.
It was to be the North Burnett's answer to Gympie's successful Mary Valley Rattler, or so they had hoped.
Instead, they were met with resistance every step of the way.
Despite their best efforts, Monto Rail Adventures never got off the ground.
They struggled to attract investors and were overwhelmed by what they perceived to be relentless political opposition.
Eventually, the once enthusiastic organisers gave up.
For them, it's hard to be optimistic about the region's future.
"This region has missed out terribly,” said Jock McLurcan, one of the masterminds of the effort.
"Everything has failed and it hurts me to see this place go backwards.
"What we really need is a big project or someone with a vision to save this town.
"Sadly, there is no desire to see anything done.”
To those involved, the Burnett Boyne Rail Line Preservation Group's failure perfectly encapsulates the deep-seated reluctance of the powers that be to spend money in the region.
While frustrated at uncooperative legislators, Mr McLurcan said he was most saddened by the lack of interest shown by fellow residents.
"Imagine if 100 members had been at the first meeting with government stakeholders?” he said.
"It would have been a totally different story.
"Instead, five or 10 people show up and they think: 'These people don't care'.”
The decision comes as the recently incorporated Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail Committee face an uphill battle to secure financial and political support for a rail trail.
Both shared a dream of exploiting the untapped tourism potential of the forgotten railway.
Not for personal gain, but for the betterment of the community.
Outspoken advocate of the Monto Rail Adventures campaign, Jack Muller, believes there is more than just history at stake.
"While the history is important, once the line is gone the opportunity to get a tourism venture up and running here is over,” Mr Muller said.