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Have you heard of a Rail trail? Have you ridden on a Rail trail?

What is a Rail trail you ask? Well, Rail trails are shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. They can be used for walking, cycling and horse riding.

Where are they?

There are now rail trails all around Australia and in other countries too. Rail trails link big and small country towns and meander through scenic countryside just as railways did in the past.

What are they like?

Most trails have a gravel or dirt surface suitable for walking, mountain bikes and horses. Some are sealed and are great for touring bikes too.

Following the route of the railways, they cut through hills, under roads, over embankments and across gullies and creeks. Apart from being great places to walk, cycle or horse ride, rail trails are linear conservation corridors protecting native plants and animals. They often link remnant vegetation in farming areas and contain valuable flora and fauna habitat. Wineries and other attractions are near many trails as well as B&B’s and other great places to stay.

Are the rails still there?

The rails are usually removed when a railway is closed, but remnants of the past such as railway cuttings and bridges still remain.
Victoria in particular, have embraced Rail trails, with over 30 trails, while there are 7 in South Australia, 18 in Western Australia, 10 in Queensland and Tasmania 23.  How many Rail trails does New South Wales? How many does one of the most populated states, with 1000’s of kilometres of disused railway have, they have eight!!  The premier trail is the Fernleigh Track at Newcastle, which has been constructed on a disused private railway line, while the rest are relatively short. The Riverina Highlands Rail Trails Group have been lobbying hard to get work started on a trail between Wagga Wagga and Tumbarumba.

Why am I interested in promoting Rail trails in NSW?

Because we have enjoyed riding on many of the trails in Victoria and South Australia. Riding rail trails is how we spend many enjoyable holidays. They are a fantastic way to have a holiday, but at the same time see the countryside, get some exercise, and meet local people who are out using their very own great facility.

Rail Trails Australia have been at the forefront of development of trails in Victoria, and have supported the concept in other states.  One of their aims for 2013 is to work to have more Rail trails developed in New South Wales.  To this end they are looking for the support of the public to show both state and federal governments, as well as local councils that the concept is something they want.  Rail Trails Australia are currently endeavouring to have meetings with various NSW state ministers to lobby their support.  They would like to hear from people in NSW who are interested in seeing Rail trails developed in this state, or would like to be involved in the promotion of Rail trails.  They would also like to hear from anyone who has been involved in trying to have a disused railway easement used as a Rail trail.

If you would like to know more on this proposal, please contact Rail Trails Australia (admin@railtrails.org.au) or John O’Brien who is the NSW representative on the Rail trails committee (jobrien@railtrails.org.au)

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