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The Indigo Shire council has been successful in obtaining funding to construct a further 9km section of the Murray to Mountains rail trail from Rutherglen to Wahgunyah.

More information on the rail trail including map.

This is on the closed Springhurst to Wahgunyah rail line in Northeast Victoria. The rails are currently still in place and we understand that the Stringybark Express group are hoping to resume rail trolley services between Rutherglen and Wahgunyah. This 7.5km section will therefore be a rail side trail, which should not be too difficult given the nature of the terrain.

Murray to Mountains Rail Trail Project Officer Darren Murphy reports that the new section will be 9km long as it will extend past the former Wahgunyah Station right to the Murray River.

An on-road connection will link the new trail to the existing trail between Wangaratta and Bright/Beechworth.

Further developments will see trails developed through the Lake Moodemere wetlands, existing trails along the Murray River and a connection to Corowa.

Railtrails Australia congratulate the Indigo Shire which has been seeking funding for several years and, as we have indicated in letters of support, we believe it will be as successful as the existing sections if constructed to the same standard. We look forward to attending the opening that the shire has indicated will be towards the end of 2007.

A Victorian state government press release provides more details about the funding.

FROM THE MINISTER FOR STATE & REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

DATE: Saturday, October 21, 2006

MURRAY TO MOUNTAINS RAIL TRAIL ON TRACK

The last section of the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail – from Rutherglen to Wahgunyah – will be built with the help of a $495,000 Bracks Government grant announced today by the Minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby.

Visiting Rutherglen, Mr Brumby said the grant for the $845,000 Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail – Final Link Project would be provided to Indigo Shire Council through the Victorian Government’s Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

“This project will complete the ‘Murray Connection’ the final nine-kilometre strategic link in the trail along the rail reserve from Rutherglen to Wahgunyah on the Murray River,” Mr Brumby said.

“The Trail will link to tourism infrastructure in Corowa, New South Wales, via the John Foord and Federation Bridges.

“It will complete the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail project that was first conceived by the shires of Alpine and Indigo and the Rural City of Wangaratta in 1997.

“The project involved converting the historic path of the disused railways between the three townships of Wangaratta, Bright and Beechworth into a sealed cycling and walking track.”

The final section includes the construction of new, and the integration of existing multi-use unsealed walking tracks, as well as horse riding and cycling trails along the Murray River forming a loop and linking into the Muscat Trail route back into Rutherglen.

Works include the construction of sealed rail trail sections and upgrade of the Muscat Trail, construction of bridges and unsealed pathways alongside the river looping back into the main trail, and directional and interpretive signage.

Mr Brumby said the trail would significantly boost tourism in the region by increasing the range of activities for visitors to the area.

“The section of the trail between Wangaratta and Bright annually attracts about 50,000 users, who inject $21.45 million into the local economy,” he said.

“Modelling by La Trobe University estimates the new link between Rutherglen and Wahgunyah will attract 7500 new users each, generating $1.4 million in economic activity.

“This is on top of the 230,000 tourists who visit the Rutherglen, Corowa and Wahgunyah wine regions each year.”

Mr Brumby said Indigo Shire Council would contribute funds for the project along with local industry with construction due to start early next year and the project completed by July 2008.

Mr Brumby said the RIDF had been very successful in leveraging funds to deliver much-needed infrastructure projects across Victoria, including tourism projects.

“The Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail – Final Link project is the second project to be announced as part of the Government’s $8 million Provincial Pathways Program,” Mr Brumby said.

“The Provincial Pathways Program is part of Moving Forward, the Government’s $502 million action plan to make Provincial Victoria the best place to live, work, invest and raise a family.

“Overall, the RIDF has now contributed $334.3 million to 123 major infrastructure projects across Victoria.”