NSW has thousands of potential kms of fabulous, scenic rail trails. The Northern Rivers Rail Trail is near completion. Tumbarumba to Rosewood (21km), Wagga Wagga to Ladysmith (0km), and Batlow to Tumut (0km) hint at possibilities of eco-tourism and active transport. Corridors connect towns and may provide healthy revenue to regional communities. South Australia’s Riesling Trail contributes approximately $1 million a year (based on expenditure of $216 per person). Rail trails in all other states boost local economies and attract international tourism. NSW has taken an itty bitty approach and failed to reap the rewards. “Due to a needless legislative blockage,’’ according to Bicycle CEO Peter McLean, ‘NSW is missing tens of millions of dollars in revenue.’ Not only that, ‘Rail trails are the backbone connecting our inter urban networks’- Tim Coen, Rail Trails for NSW.
Eileen on the Glad Phillips Bridge, Bonnie Doon
Doug and Eileen Reckord of Bega to Tathra Saferide continue their adventure in Victoria, the premier rail trail state having 39 of the most comprehensive rail trails in the country.
Day 4 High Country Rail Trail - Wodonga to Bandiana - 10.15km - Bitumen
The Wodonga end of the HCRT has a smooth bitumen surface and lots of historical information. Often braving 100km/hr bike-unfriendly rural roads to get to work, I am deeply envious of anyone with access to a commute like this. Hopefully in time we will have a similar path in the Bega Valley. I had a strong urge to keep riding to Shelley, 75 kms to the east. 781m above sea level, once the highest railway station in Victoria. It was uphill, storms were forecast, and I had to get back for breakfast.
Lunch at the Rail Trail Cafe, Porepunkah
Day 5 HCRT - Huon to Tallangatta - 25.43km - Varied surfaces
We hit the trail for just a short ride out to Tallangatta. The surface was varied: sometimes fully sealed, some sections half sealed, the rest gravel. It was fine for us on our gravel/hybrid bikes. Scenery alongside Lake Hume was picture perfect on a warm, breezy day.
FLAT AND FAST Day 7 MMRT - Everton to Wangaratta - 29.24km - Bitumen
Zipping across the flat plains to Wangaratta, at Everton Station I met a couple of ladies from Wangaratta, charging their e-bikes while en-route to Beechworth. It is an 88km round trip but that’s the nature of the e-bike revolution. Unathletic older riders can cover long distances in relative comfort.
We headed out to the Milawa Gourmet Region, visiting the Milawa Cheese Factory and Brown Brothers for a wine tasting session. As most riders on the journey do, we opened our wallets and paid for accommodation, food, drink and other holiday expenses. Everywhere we went we saw different aspects of the bike economy in action. Bike shops, hire bikes, organised bike tours, transport services as well as regular events like fun runs and marathons etc. Cafes had bikes parked outside with many riders about. Quoting the Cold Chisel classic, ‘The railway don’t come out here no more,’ but the rail trail does!’
Photo courtesy of Rosie Kew @northernriversrailtrailsupporters
Here are 16 impressive NSW rail trails that could virtually happen tomorrow. Unfortunately, a piece of out-moded legislation prevents work on railway assets- some of which have gathered rust since the 1960s.