Brisbane River Valley Rail Trail At Critical Stage

Railtrails Australia has been monitoring the possibility of a rail trail along at least part of the historic Brisbane River Valley railway. In 1998 we reported the destruction of several low level heavy timber bridges on the northern section and last year discovered the Shire of Esk had an intense interest in opening the 7 km section between Fernvale to Lowood, 39km south of Esk and near the vast Wivenhoe Reservoir.

Timber trestle bridge near Lowood on the planned Fernvale – Lowood rail trail. There is agreement with adjacent landowners to take the trail via a roadway under the bridge and leave the structure untouched. This will also reduce development costs. Photo credit: Michael Oxer

RA President Michael Oxer has made several exploratory visits along the line and provided information to Council representatives to assist their efforts. This August he met with Councillor June Bray and CEO Warren Oxnam to discuss developments. Following that meeting he made representations to the offices of two Queensland Government Ministers and secured a meeting with Mr Ross MacLeod, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Minister for Environment.

Michael reports that in establishing meetings with government officials he found a copy of the RA Railtrails of Victoria guidebook served as a quick and graphical way of introducing the matters he wanted to discuss and helped gain interest and support.

The Esk Shire needs assistance with ‘on the ground’ coordination of a number of elements involved in the project. A number of government authorities need to be actively involved and focussing that effort is now critical. Local support is reported to be growing and several difficulties along the Fernvale to Lowood section involving old timber trestle bridges have been resolved with neighbouring landowners. A growing number of local folk are using parts of the line for walking but until rails and sleepers are lifted and the track surface prepared bicycle riding is not an option.

Just out of Lowood on the planned Fernvale – Lowood rail trail and high above the broad Brisbane River (to the left) is a one sided cutting stabilised with rough rock and brick walling. The rails on this short section will be left in place for historic reasons with the trail on the side. A second rail was added inside the curve to reduce derailments. Photo credit: Michael Oxer

We are hoping that through the good offices and support of the Minister for Environment, Honorable Dean Wells, this potentially fine rail trail will soon become a reality, bring local tourism benefits and provide a new use for a very old route between two fascinating Queensland country towns alongside the Brisbane River.

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