What is the situation with numerous rail trail proposals in the southern highlands of NSW?
In October, Rail Trails Australia president Damian McCrohan and Canberra based regional representative Dennis Punidard spent a weekend meeting with them to find out.
First up was a meeting with long time proponent of the Goulburn Crookwell Rail Trail, Bob Kirk, who also gave us a quick tour of the marvellous river side trails in Goulburn. The Goulburn Mulwaree Council has voted to support the rail trail proposal put forward by the Goulburn Rail Trail Steering Committee to develop the rail trail to their boundary at Graywood Siding near Woodhouselea. This is about half of the corridor to Crookwell. Council is now looking for funding to prepare the Development Plan, which is required as part of the NSW government’s rail trail guidelines, and for construction as well.
Next was the Molonglo Rail Trail which will connect Bungendore and Captains Flat. Greg Durr met us at the Captains Flat station and explained some of the plans for remediation of the area and the connection down into picturesque town of Captains Flat itself. There was a large ore mine at Captains Flat, which was the reason for the railway, and now significant clean up of contaminated land is underway. It is hoped that this will also faciliate some rail trail construction. Queanbeyan Palerang Council is now in support of the rail trail.
Next day we enjoyed a ride around Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffith with Peter and Rosanne Coumbis, and friend Annie, despite the cold and very strong wind. Peter is on the Monaro Rail Trail committee, and also RTA committee. After the ride we found shelter and discussed developments on the Monaro Rail Trail, which when complete would link Queanbeyan to Cooma and Bombala.
The great news is that the Snowy Monaro Regional Council voted the week before to proceed with formally applying to the Federal government¬† for a $1m commitment made by the local Federal member the Hon Kristy McBain at the last Federal election. It was limited to the 25 kms section of the southernmost section of the Monaro Rail Trail. While the $1m only enables a 3.5kms section out from the trailhead at Bombala it is tremendously significant as it will enable shovels to be placed in the ground given all other planning and reports have been obtained. More importantly there is another recently announced grant (the Regional Precincts and Partnership Program) which will allow an application to be made in parallel for the balance of 21.5 km as well as for a 60 km section at the northernmost end from the trail head at Queanbeyan to Michelago. Preparation of a Development Plan is currently under way.
Dennis has also recently met with the Galong to Boorowa Rail Trail group several times, and they are confident of obtaining sufficient funding to prepare their Development Plan shortly.
So all are the rail trails are in different stages of planning and design and very positive compared to several years ago. A credit to the local groups, councils, state government and of course all rail trail supporters.