The councils of Mitchell, Murrindindi and Mansfield obtained a grant in 2005 to develop a Concept Design and Business Plan for a rail trail along the former railway from Tallarook to Mansfield (and Alexandra) in North East Victoria. A draft of the plan prepared by Urban Enterprise was released in mid February and is available on the Mitchell Shire website.
Click here for more details of the rail trail including map.
What is not clear in the online document is that plan only really refers to stage one. Stage one in Mitchell Shire is the 12km Tallarook to Trawool Valley section, in Murrindindi shire it is the 10km Yea to Homewood section and Mansfield shire it the 14km Maindample – Mansfield section. The total length when completed would be 120km plus 14km from Cathkin to Alexandra.
As expected the rail trail proposals is creating controversy, mainly to do with costs and the affect on adjacent landholders. The councils, councillors and consultants have conducted a lot of public and private meetings with residents. Bicycle Victoria and Railtrails Australia have attended several of the public meetings which have all been very well attended The way many local people passionately and eloquently express their views has been very impressive (minutes of one meeting are also on the above website). It is pleasing to see the strong majority support for the trail in the community. Public comment on the plan is now open in the Mitchell and Murrindindi shires and will be soon be in the Mansfield shire, until the end of March. The councillors in the three shire councils will then vote in April and May on whether to support the stage one sections in their respective shires.
If you would like to use this trail one day please have a look at the report (also available in shire libraries) While concerns of affected landholders are an issue, they are addressed in the plan and have been done so on many other open rail trails in Australia. What is always harder to agree on is whether the ongoing maintenance costs of the trail will be justified. At the meetings in Mitchell shire many of the opponents expressed the view that the council does not adequately maintain existing infrastructure. So this could be the main consideration of the councillors in deciding whether to support the proposal or not. Please write to the councils to express your support and desire to use it and the benefits it will bring for locals and visitors alike.
Council Contact Details
Mitchell Shire Council
Christine Gibbins Tourism Business Officer
113 High Street Broadford 3658
03 5734 6207
Murrindindi Shire Council
Cindy Ferguson Tourism Development Officer
PO Box 138 Alexandra 3714
03 5772 0325
Mansfield Shire Council
Ian Geer Tourist Officer
Private Bag 1000 Mansfield 3724
03 5775 8585
If you would like ot attend a meeting the Murrindindi Shire Public Information Session is on the 9th March 2006 at the Yea Shire Hall from 7:00- 9:30pm
A time and location for the Public Information Session in Mansfield has not been finalised as yet, but it is likely to be around the end of March.