Bungendore, Hoskinstown and Captains Flat are well placed to take advantage of one of our greatest assets, the unused railway line between the towns. Creating a shared-use path of an under-used resource makes plain common sense.
Nicknamed the ‘Molonglo Rail Trail’, the proposed route through the Molonglo Valley passes through highly scenic landscapes with views to farmland and forests. As well as the unique villages of Bungendore, Captains Flat and Hoskinstown, old railway infrastructure such as embankments, cuttings, bridges, culverts, stations and the turntable at Captains Flat further enhance the historic and visitor appeal of the route.
Our vision of a trail with various precincts that appeal to a variety of people can be summarized in the graphic below:
What’s next for the project?
Currently the Molonglo Rail Trail steering committee is seeking funding for a feasibility study.
How does it benefit the local community?
Rail trails like this around the world are hugely popular with locals and tourists alike and have been shown to provide all sorts of opportunities for local businesses including adjacent landholders. You don’t need to use the trail yourself to get the benefit of the visitors’ spending.
And the locals get to use the rail trails the most; for a long walk or as a safe and pleasant ride with the kids, getting out and enjoying our Australian countryside.
Who owns what? Where will the funding come from?
The Bungendore to Captains Flat rail corridor is owned by the NSW State Government and runs through various rural properties as well as Crown Land. In the last NSW Government budget a $110 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund was announced to fund tourism infrastructure including rail trails. The Molonglo Rail Trail has been identified by Rail Trails NSW as one of three rail trails in NSW that they would like to put forward for funding.
Palerang has 22 years experience in establishing and managing our Greenways at almost zero cost to Council. This network of shared paths through Wamboin and Bywong has similarities with rail trials and is actively supported by the community and adjacent landowners, even though many of them were outspoken opponents at the outset.
To create a viable trail, structures are made safe, a new surface is laid and appropriate fencing is erected for the benefit and protection of surrounding landholders and users. Many other factors are considered. Too many to detail here. To make this work for everyone there is lots of work to do.
We will benefit from the experience of developing rail trails elsewhere, such as New Zealand, the USA and Canada. The establishment of rail trails has been happening for over 20 years in Victoria. Wherever a rail trail is proposed, landowners have legitimate concerns about all sorts of matters, from security to livestock movements, from fire to litter. Any feasibility study and planning would include consultation, investigation and mitigation of landholders’ concerns.
We have a great opportunity to take advantage of the changes in leisure and health activities in society and to tap into the rapidly growing ‘grey nomad’ tourism sector.
Who will use the trail?
The majority of rail trail users are family groups and mature age (35+) leisure cyclists with money in their pockets. They like a good cuppa or coffee and a scone, enjoy historical features, good views and fresh air between hearty meals.
They like to go shopping and pick up a souvenir. They need sun-block, lip balm and a cold drink. They want a glass of wine and a comfortable bed after a day’s walking or riding. The next day they have breakfast in a café then fill up the fuel tank and drive off to their next adventure or return home to look at the photos of their country fun.
Where can I get more information?
If you want to learn more about rail trails so that you can make up your own mind, why not take a trip to Tallangatta where the High Country Rail Trail starts, or a bit further to Wangaratta or Bright or Beechworth, or other towns in Victoria where they have been benefitting from NSW visitors for years. Visitors spend good NSW money on a journey along these established Victorian Rail Trails. Let some of them come to Hoskinstown to spend that money!
For more information about rail trails see www.railtrails.org.au/what-are-rail-trails/introduction
Re-using ‘our’ rail line for this innovative purpose will generate benefits for all locals.