Friends groups inspire their community to get behind the planning, development and construction of Rail Trails. Here is a team of people who are passionately working to establish a rail trail between Castlemaine and Maryborough in Central Victoria.
As a new member of the Rail Trails Australia volunteer team, I’m privileged to meet some of the people who inspire their community to get behind the planning, development and construction of Rail Trails. Here is a team of people who are passionately working to establish a rail trail between Castlemaine and Maryborough in Central Victoria.
When it’s built, the Castlemaine–Maryborough Rail Trail will be 55 km long and will follow the historic rail corridor from Castlemaine to Campbell’s Creek, Guildford, Newstead, Carisbrook and Maryborough. Trail users will be able to begin their journeys from both ends via trains from Melbourne, Bendigo or Ballarat. The last passenger service along this line was 43 years ago, and freight services ceased 18 years ago.
The enthusiastic team is working to gather the support of their communities and local government (Mount Alexander Shire and Central Goldfields Shire) to initiate a feasibility study. Their research indicate the rail trail could support up to 150 jobs during construction, and attract 65,000 to 100,000 visitors a year – bringing $2 to 4million in additional spending to these communities.
Lou Citroen is a retired engineer who moved to the Castlemaine area in 2017. The vibrancy of Castlemaine and Mt Alexander Shire, and its cycling opportunities, rekindled Lou’s lifelong interest in recreational cycling. He’s ridden parts of several Victorian rail trails and the sight of a disused rail easement to Maryborough sparked his imagination. Keen to see the easement transformed into a community rail trail, Lou began lobbying through the local newspaper and it didn’t take before a group of like-minded souls gathered to pool their skills. The group has become an incorporated body and Lou has taken on the secretarial role.
Castlemaine-Maryborough Rail Trail group president John Carruthers says his passion for the trail stems from his love of road cycling, the outdoors and seeing others flourish. John also has a love of art, story-telling and ecology, all integral to the trail’s potential. He is rehabilitating a former grazing property near Guildford, close to the trail’s path. John is a former CEO and management consultant with an earlier career in the media.
Bob Forde is a retired civil engineer who lives on a small sheep farm on the outskirts of Guildford. He’s interested in the positive uses the disused rail corridor can be put to, and believes the trail will be a tremendous attraction for riders.
Christine Christie is a teacher who enjoys many versions of active recreation. In 2012 she began the challenge to ride every rail trail in Victoria. While riding from Castlemaine to Guildford along the shoulder of a busy road, she naturally thought about the many advantages a rail trail along this route would offer – so when she saw Lou’s article in the local paper, she responded quickly.
Mick Evans is an enthusiastic recreational cyclist who enjoys cycling on rail trails as a wonderful and safe way of seeing the countryside and of making a holiday an adventure. He was excited to see an article in the Castlemaine Mail about repurposing the rail corridor from Castlemaine to Maryborough into a Rail Trail, and to discover an enthusiastic group of people who were keen to make this vision a reality.
Mark Brown is a retired fitter and turner, who has also built 2 mudbrick houses and has run a hydraulics business. Mark is a keen bike rider, riding with his wife several times a week.
This group is dynamic and passionate; its members have created a long-term community infrastructure project that while it doesn’t yet have financial support or official plans, has already established a Facebook Group and an online petition (featured on the RTA website on 28 November last year) with more than 1660 names collected in only two months.
The Castlemaine-Maryborough Rail Trail group pops up at community events with their banner, brochures and petitions. They have already garnered impressive momentum, and it will be fascinating to watch their progress over the next couple of years.
The Autumn edition of the Rail Trails Connections magazine for paid members will feature some of our passionate Friends groups.
(This news item was written by Julie Flynn, RTA Regional Rep for Central Victoria)