Great Southern Rail Trail (Victoria) seeks loans for bridge

The Committee of Management of the Great Southern Rail Trail in Gippsland, Victoria (see description) is seeking contributions from individuals to help complete an important bridge across the Tarwin River at Meeniyan.

As well as providing an update on the trail this is a different approach to fund raising, and we thought it a worthy news item.

The Committee of Management of the Great Southern Rail Trail is in the situation that we have a 300 metre break in the rail trail at Meeniyan. The Great Southern Railway crossed the Tarwin River by a wooden rammed pile [often referred to as a trestle] rail bridge known as the Pumphouse Bridge. This bridge still stands next to a VicRoads traffic bridge that only has vehicle lanes – and no pedestrian lanes, there are armco height side rails on the road bridge.

Riding or walking the rail trail has become a popular activity and the committee is constantly asked when we can get a bridge over the Tarwin River for trail users – currently people either choose to turn around at the Pumphouse Bridge or cross over the road bridge with the 100 km/h traffic.

The Committee of Management has constructed and is maintaining a trail that is highly regarded by children, walkers, horse and bicycle riders, (the trail is wheel chair friendly) and we see many other wheeled vehicles like prams and scooters using the trail – all healthy activities.

We have been working on solutions to cross the Tarwin River at Meeniyan for over three years and have had many ideas put to us – the most expensive costing around two million dollars.

The Committee has decided that as the wooden bridge is not practical or cost effective to renovate and maintain that we will build a full height steel truss bridge 210 metres in length over the river. Even with voluntary labour putting in the decking and a very supportive local engineering works the job will cost around $640,000.

We have $340,000 set aside for the bridge replacement which we are required to spend in the next 6 months. One solution is to spend this money constructing the 30 metre centre span of the bridge over the deeper section of the river and put in all the foundations for the future bridge, lifting up the centre span at a later date when we get the funding to construct the remainder of the bridge.

The low level river crossing will result in the trail being closed for about 2 months of the year due to flooding and repairs after the flooding. Closure will force trail users to revert back to using the VicRoads bridge or stopping their journey.

There is an opportunity now to seek a Government grant for $250, 000. This grant needs a 1/3 contribution from the Committee. This means that we need to find $80 – $90,000 quickly to match the Government contribution.

Our goal has been to link the Leongatha section to the Meeniyan – Foster section and get the bridge open in time for the 2006 Commonwealth games, this is still achievable. The plans are done, the volunteers are ready to go – all we need is the extra money. The Committee is pursuing sponsorship opportunities and of course will accept donations towards the project, but to raise the money quickly we have come up with a plan to seek a loan from the community that possess and use the popular rail trail.

We know that if 800 people or organisations lent us $100.00 we would have $80,000 in the bank. This will give us money to match the Government Grant and also clearly demonstrate the passion that the community has for rail trail development. The Committee is seeking an interest free loan from you for up to 10 years that will be paid back to people year by year in order of initial receipt.

Can you be a part of this project and lend us $100.00 please?

Fundraising Committee Chairman Eric J. Cumming
On Behalf of the Committee of Management of the Great Southern Rail Trail.

Eric’s Phone: 0428 949 404 Home [often Machine] 03 566 44 363 email:


East Gippsland Rail Trail (Victoria) extension opens 28 January 2006

A community Opening Day event to launch the East Gippsland Rail Trail extension from Nowa Nowa to Orbost will be held on Saturday January 28th 2006 at Nowa Nowa.

Click here for more details of the rail trail including map.

Mr Peter McGauran MP, Member of Gippsland, will cut the ribbon to declare the new section formally open to the public.

The Management Committee extends a cordial invitation to everyone interested in the development of the rail trail to be present on this occassion. ‘It is a very significant addition to tourism infrastructure for East Gippsland.’ commented Committee Secretary Michael Oxer. ‘Completing the trail is at least five years ahead of our expectations, and already it is generating a growing interest for visitors from outside the region. We have notice of several interstate groups preparing to make extended visits and in particular to take up the challenge of completing the full length of our nationally significant rail trail.’ he added.

Visitors to the Opening Day can walk or ride the Rail Trail from any point West or East of Nowa Nowa to arrive for 12.15 pm ribbon cutting, with a BBQ lunch to follow. Opening & BBQ will take place east of the Princes Highway Ironstone Creek road bridge.

More details about the event are available on the Rail Trail web site

With the addition of the section from Nowa Nowa to Orbost (via Burns Road at Newmeralla) the East Gippsland Rail Trail will be one hundred kilometres long, and include also the townships of Nicholson and Bruthen. This project has been made possible by funding from the Australian Government’s Regional Partnerships Program.


Threat to Coast to Vines Rail Trail, South Australia

Part of map from ‘Railtrails of Victoria and South Australia’

The 34km Coast to Vines rail trail as its name suggests runs from the sea at Hallet Cove and Marino through vineyards to Willunga, south of Adelaide. Click here for more details of the rail trail including map.

The cities of Onkaparinga and Marion jointly manage the rail trail and have shown their commitment to improving the rail trail by recently putting considerable effort into developing Marketing, Signage and Facilities Plans.

Railtrails Australia was therefore surprised and disappointed to learn that the state government is planning to do the very opposite of this. Through the Land Management Corporation (LMC) they are planning to sell approximately 700m of rail trail land at Noarlunga Downs to A.V. Jennings to put houses on.

In the past several sections of the former rail line were unfortunately sold off requiring several diversions on the rail trails. It is important to maintain (and develop further in this trail’s case) the continuity of the trail to not only provide a better trail experience but also to allow for possible future re-use of the corridor for public transport. For a government to then sell off sections of a public rail trail that has now been open and well used for many years sets a terrible precedent.

Railtrails Australia is not opposed to the government developing surplus land in the area but rather than divert the rail trail around on the creek flood plain this section of the proposed development could be designed around the rail trail. This would be an opportunity to put into action the concept of sustainable and healthy communities, a concept that has been promoted in other LMC residential developments.

Railtrails Australia has written to the City of Onkaparinga urging them to oppose this proposal and will be writing to the relevant ministers. We urge users of rail trails, especially from South Australia, to also write to the government opposing this alarming precedent.

A list of contacts is below. The Honourable Patrick Conlan is the Minster responsible for Transport SA (managers of the rail trail land) and the Land Management Corporation.


Victorian Government outlines new rail trail funding

The Victorian Government’s Department of Innomvation, Industry and Regional Development has released a new funding program for regional Victoria, which proposes funding for rail trails.

Page 48 of the Moving Forward document (Download full document (1.3MB PDF)) includes the following:-

A new statewide Provincial Pathways program
Many provincial councils report the positive economic social and recreational benefits of investment in pathways such as bicycle paths, rail trails, footpaths and walking tracks. The Government acknowledges the strong community support for investment in connecting pathways within and between towns and will provide $8 million over four years to create a new statewide Provincial Pathways program. Funded through the RIDF and the Provincial Victoria Growth Fund the program will include

  • progressively developing the Great Victorian Coastal Walk, with new projects along Victoria’s coastline from Mallacoota to Portland
  • working with Bicycle Victoria and local councils to prioritize rail trail projects and promote the benefits of cycle touring in provincial Victoria; and
  • establishing a Pathways Working Group to identify and leverage investment for new tourism projects along the Great Victorian Coastal Walk and rail trail routes.

According to a Warrnambool Standard article the proposed Port Fairy to Warrnambool rail trail is looking like receiving $1.74 million.

Click here for more details of the proposed rail trail.

And according to a Wimmera Mail-Times article the proposed Horsham to Natimuk rail trail may also become a reality with the help of this funding.

Railtrails Australia congratulates Bicycle Victoria on all their work to help achieve this funding committment.


Great Southern Rail Trail (Gippsland, Victoria) Bike & Walk Family Day

As part Catchment Week celebrations the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority is hosting a Bike & Walk Family Day on Sunday, November 13th along the Great Southern Rail Trail.

The day is free of charge.

Cycle or walk along the Great Southern Rail Trail, viewing areas of interest and stopping to listen to speakers at key points. A range of activities for varying ages and skills will be available.

For all the family and children under 10 years of age.

Ride or walk from Leongatha to Koonwarra (7.5km). Bike education including free bike skills education activities will be held at the Koonwarra Eduction Centre. Drinks, activities and the draw for the chance to win a Children’s bike will be provided.

For adults and childern 10 years and older.

Leongatha to Meeniyan (16.5km) or from Foster to Meeniyan (32km). Free BBQ lunch at Meeniyan and the draw of an Adult’s bike will be provided. Not suitable for children under 10 years.

There will be talks on the environment, giveaways, activities, prizes and a free BBQ lunch at Meeniyan.

Leongatha: It will commence in Horticulture Park, opposite the West Gippsland CMA Office in Leongatha (Corner Holt & Blair Streets) Assemble from 9.30am for a 10 am start either Leongatha or Foster.

Foster: meet opposite the old Foster railway station.

You are welcome to participate in any or all sections, depending on your age and fitness criteria. To be part of the Bike & Walk Day and to be eligible to win a bike (& free BBQ lunch), it is essential that you register by Wednesday 9th November at the West Gippsland CMA Office on the corner of Bair and Young Streets in Leongatha (phone 5662 4555) or download a registration form.

Also you can refer to the Prom Country Website.


Railtrails Australia 2005 Annual General Meeting – UPDATE

NOTICE OF MEETING and call for NOMINATIONS The Annual General Meeting of Railtrails Australia will be held on November 16th 2005 at the ROYAL HOTEL corner of Spensley and Berry Streets, Clifton Hill, 3068 Melbourne, Victoria; 6.30pm for 7.30pm. The hotel is two short blocks east of the Clifton Hill Railway Station

The first hour, commencing at 6.30pm, will provide time for a meal and an opportunity to renew acquaintances and make new friends prior to the AGM.

All members are invited to join us. We have tentatively booked for twenty persons however will be grateful for your notice of attendance.

Railtrails Australia is always seeking new blood, talent and muscle!

If you have a passion in advancing the development of Railtrails across our nation we will be delighted if you will consider either becoming a member of our committee or a participant in a number of our on-going projects.

Note: This information has been previously posted to financial members.

Valid nominations have been received under the conditions of Section 25 (Subsections (1) & (2)) of our Rules of Association and by the specified time and date of 5pm, November 7, 2005.

President: Barry Holt

Vice-President: Alexander McCooke

Secretary: Damian McCrohan

Treasurer: Vince Aitkin

Committee: Frank Kinnersley, Michael Oxer, Mark Plummer, David Vidovic and Vacancy

Under the conditions of Section 25 Subsection (5) of our rules of Association allows nominations from the floor of the AGM to fill the vacancy for a Committee Person.

Nominations forms and proxy voting forms can be obtained either by downloading HERE; by mail at PO Box 1198, Box Hill, 3128, Victoria; or myself on 03 8341 6266 during office hours. Proxy Votes can be received up until 5pm, Tuesday 15 November 2005 under the conditions specified on the Proxy Voting Form.

Alan Barry Holt – Public Officer

Railtrails Australia Inc.


The NSW Bike Show

Members of the Railtrails Australia Committee, Vince Aitkin and Frank Kinnersley, were assisted by NSW member and Sydney resident Jim Hope in running a stand at the Bicycling Australia Show which was held over the weekend of 22 and 23 October at the Dome in Sydney Showground.

Railtrails Australia knows that a significant number of people who use rail trails are cyclists and we consider our attendance at national cycle shows is a valuable opportunity to present rail trails to show attendees. As there is presently a drought of Rail Trails throughout New South Wales we were delighted to talk with so many people about the vision of RT’s and how valuable they are to the community as recreational, car free and safe places to enjoy healthy recreation. A frequent comment made to us by cyclists over the two days was that they could not understand why there were so few Rail Trails in NSW which they considered the most populated and wealthiest of the Nations States. Many people were amazed at how many Rail Trails were available for community use throughout Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Many cyclists told us that they took vacations to Victoria to cycle rail trails particularly the Murray to the Mountains RT (Wangaratta/Bright) and the Gippsland RT’s.

There were some 100 entities who maintained stands etc at the show including a number of Sydney Bicycle User Groups and the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation from Western Australia. Their iconic trail (presently open from Mundaring to Collie ) uses Rail Trails for approx one third of its 370 klm distance and when finished through to Albany will incorporate many more abandoned Rail Lines along its route. We spoke to a tour company who operate cycling tours (among others) on this trail.

We had the opportunity to talk with people who are pushing for various rural Rail Trails throughout southern and central parts of NSW. There are negotiations underway in the Monaro, Goulburn/Crookwell, Bungendore/Captains Flat, Culcairn/Corowa, Riverina, Cowra/Eugowra, Molong/Yeoval and the Tarana/Oberon areas. But in the end it needs people power to push for these projects to be funded and completed. Contact details of groups in these areas are available from Railtrails Australia – just email our Secretary.

For Railtrails Australia the show was a great success. We handed out thousands of brochures and made many people aware of our work and about the availibility of our two guide books covering Rail trails in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. We look forward to participating in future Bicycle Shows throughout the Nation.


Railtrails Australia – new postal address

Railtrails Australia has changed its postal address to PO Box 1198, Box Hill Vic 3128, Australia. For the next few months, mail sent to our old post office box in East Melbourne will be forwarded to the new address.

Our phone and fax numbers are unchanged.

If you have our address recorded please update your records.


Opening of the Collie – Darkan Rail Trail (WA) on October 16th 2005

The Collie to Darkan Rail Trail, 200km SE of Perth, will be officially opened on Sunday 16th October 2005 Click here for more details of the rail trail

The opening will take place at the Darkan Railway Station in Darkan.

A ride/walk-in will take place from 9:00am for those interested and the opening ceremony begins at 11:00am.

Lunch will be available from various food stalls from 12:00 midday and the afternoons entertainment begins at 12:30pm

The Friends of the Collie Darkan Rail Trail Group Inc., the Shire of Collie and the Shire of West Arthur are hosting this event. Congratulations on all their hard work.

For more details contact PO Box 87, Darkan WA 6392 Ph/fax (08) 97361205 or email

A background to the trail`s development is in the Spring issue of the Railtrails Australia newsletter.


Opening of the Old Beechy Rail Trail (Vic) on October 22nd 2005

The Old Beechy Rail Trail, 130km SE of Melbourne, will be officially opened on Saturday 22nd October 2005. Click here for more details of the rail trail including an updated map.

There will be a brief welcome for those travelling by train at Colac Rail Station at 10:50am.

The main events are occuring at Gellibrand. At 12:00 noon at the Gellibrand Hall the Official Opening will be performed by Elaine Carbines, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, Member for Geelong Province. Then entertainment followed by procession to the new pedestrian bridge for a Cutting of the Ribbon at the pedestrian bridge. Refreshments available at various market stalls

Everyone is of course free to join the committee for an exploration of the Trail.

For more details contact Colac Otway Shire on Ph 03 5232 9400.

Railtrails Australia is pleased to be able to congratulate another committee and council on all their hard work and dedication to get their rail trail open. While some short sections have been open for many years it was thought a dream to have a complete rail trail from Colac to Beech Forest albeit with a few diversions at this stage.