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How does an annual report adequately describe the contributions made over a whole year by those who form the volunteer Committee?

In this 'Year of the Volunteer' Railtrails Australia continues to grow only because of quite extraordinary effort, and even sacrifice, by all its committee members. Here I want to put on the record my perception of that effort but first note some of the products and activities from the past year.

Most obvious, important and demanding was ongoing production of the guide book Railtrails of Victoria, published late in 1999 and reprinted during 2000 with a second run of 3000 books. I say ongoing because as a self publisher we also had to manage the marketing, distribution and promotion and that has required a high level of persistent effort. Hard on the heels of this first guide book production was a decision to produce another and more detailed edition modelled on the first but making use of all that was learnt first time around. This not only expands and updates the Victorian list but adds South Australia and represents a symbol of of our expansion out of Victoria as a more truly national organisation. Support this year for the efforts of the Esk Shire for a rail trail along at least part of the former Brisbane River valley line also highlights our wider efforts.

Closely allied to the work on the books has been establishment and expansion of our web site and the linked email communication options for the Committee, subscribers and a wider Network. Thanks to a $500 donation from Bicycle Industries Australia Inc the capacity of the web site was considerably expanded. www.railtrails.org.au has received many commendation for its design and content. This site has very significant potential for Railtrails Australia in the future as we grow the organisation and seek smarter, quicker and cheaper ways of sharing information and influencing rail trail developments across the country. Telling rail trail users where to 'get on' and 'get off' presents challenges for all r.t. Committees of Management, and our efforts to develop a signs protocol is bearing results with a near final draft document now being prepared. This will assist our relationship with trail Committees. It also strengthens our capacity to develop technical information on a range of engineering and related matters.

One of the most frustrating matters we have had to resolve has been our data base. There is no negative reflection on any individual efforts but a series of unfortunate disjunctions and happenings meant it was many months before we got on top of the problem. A supporting action has been work to document the procedures we have been using in both internal management and other relationships. This is essential risk management to avoid loss of function which can occur when such knowledge leaves when an individual moves to other things.