There are over 100 rail trails in Australia but due to a legislative blockage, NSW trails are still in their pilot stages (most trails are under 1 km in length). Other states, without the bureaucratic red tape, have trails of up to 1000 kms in length and are reaping the rewards.
“Due to a needless legislative blockage,’’ according to Bicycle CEO Peter McLean, “NSW is missing out on tens of millions of dollars of tourism revenue.’’
Victoria, where the Australian rails-to-trails movement began, has 39 of the most comprehensive rail trails in the country. An economic impact study of the Murray to the Mountains, Warburton and East Gippsland Rail Trails in Victoria, concluded that every visitor day contributed $51.10 into the economy (Beeton, 2003).
Another study calculated an average $483.00 per person per day expenditure on food, accommodation and beverages. These were mostly repeat visits with increased expenditure on each occasion. (Beeton, 2010).
Bicycle NSW Members Doug and Eileen Reckord, who are also members of Bega Tathra Safe Ride, recently went on a 3-week rail trail adventure to discover their magic and celebrate their anniversary. Below is their story.
‘Closest to our Far South Coast home near Tathra, is the fabulous Tumbarumba - Rosewood Rail Trail. NSW’s first official rail trail which opened in April, 2020. Friends had come back with rave reviews so we headed west to sunny Tumbarumba.’
‘We started our adventure on good bitumen with fantastic historical interpretation signs, beautiful rural scenery and coffee and cake at the Gone Barney cafe at Rosewood.
On the return leg we met Alan, a spry 81, on a standard pushy and Glenda, on her new foldable e-bike. We also encountered a large group from Sydney, on hired e-bikes, who were all over 75.
When we spoke about our efforts to get the Bega to Tathra bike path built, we were told to “hurry up and build it so we can come and ride it”.
We’d never been to ‘Tumba’ before and our first rail trail ride set a very high standard. We’ll be back with friends!.’
Bicycle NSW continues to advocate for rail trails in this state. We look forward to the opening of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. In the meantime, why not ride the beautiful Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail and share your experience with us?!
We will highlight more of the Reckford files in the next issue.