Bentley resident Charles Wilkinson is “pretty excited” about the Northern Rivers Rail Trail project.
Funding of $9.9 million to construct 16.3km of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail between Bentley and the Lismore Railway Station was announced today.
Federal MP Kevin Hogan said that when the entire project was completed, it would be one of the best rail trails in the world.
“The rail trail will eventually span 130km of unused rail track between Casino and Murwillumbah for visitors to explore the area,” Mr Hogan said.
Mr Wilkinson said the rail trail will open opportunities for agri-tourism.
“It’s a proven soft tourism winner,” he said of the existing rail trails in NSW and renowned rail trails in New Zealand.
Development of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is managed by Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc which includes community members, businesses and the three regional councils – Richmond Valley, Lismore and Tweed.
A few years ago, funding was approved for the Casino to Bentley section, and the new funding will continue the trail through to Lismore Railway Station, Mr Hogan said.
For those people that aren’t sure about the trail, there will be buffer zones and vegetation screening and fencing along the trail, Mr Wilkinson.
Existing farmstay accommodation along the route will benefit and further farm stay accommodations have submitted development applications to Lismore Council.
“There are no negative impacts,” Mr Wilkinson said.
In the next few months workers will be on the section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail from Casino to Bentley conducting a variety of works necessary for the rail trail project including minor vegetation clearing and access point upgrades, spraying of noxious weeds in conjunction with the clearing, a biodiversity assessment and undertaking an aerial survey.
Construction of the Casino to Bentley (13.5 km) section will be managed by Richmond Valley Council, eliminating the need for a tender process. A date for construction to begin is yet to be announced.
The Federal Government is providing the $9,863,615 funding through the Building Better Regions Fund.
Not sure what a rail trail is
A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway track into a multi-use path, typically for walking, cycling and sometimes horse riding and snowmobiling. The characteristics of abandoned railways—flat, long, frequently running through historical areas—are appealing for various developments.
More information about rail trails across Australia can be found here – opens in new tab