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Byron Shire
August 4, 2021

Why we need a rail trail

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The rail trail is not just about a walking track; it’s about ecotourism and host communities, festivals and events, employment, education and workplace training, mental and physical health, equity for the disabled, habitat and wildlife corridors and, most importantly, future legacies.  It would showcase our natural environment and our beautiful lifestyle to the world.

It will most certainly prove to be a prime example of the type of public infrastructure that is urgently needed nationally to address a challenging mass of ills that confront contemporary society.  It could be part of a new way of thinking about walking and riding and public health and happiness, particularly in the regions.

As a valid means of transport or for the sheer joy of it, a journey along the rail trail would be safe from traffic and free of exhaust fumes. It would be quiet, interesting, social, comfortable and beautiful and it could inspire the sort of personal changes that people find difficult to make.  It may also add impetus to the development of a nationally integrated pedestrian and cycling network.

But here’s the thing that’s a knockout: no other rail trail in the world has an internationally renowned tourism hotspot like Byron Bay sitting right in the middle of it, flush with the tourism dollars (and a perfect-fit tourism demographic) that can ultimately pay for the rail trail and guarantee it a very profitable future.

William Jeffery, Nimbin


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  1. While I support whole heartlessly the place that a Rail Trail activity may have in our community, per say, I do question the letting go entirely of the possibility of a Lite Rail service utilising the existing infrastructure. It would embrace many of the advantages mentioned for the Rail Trail but advantage a wider section of the public by its ability to accommodate those who don’t or can’t ride a bike or walk long distances.
    Surely before all that line work is ripped up, we should think of that possibility. Is a Lite Rail dead in the water? Can they be run together?
    We have to think of all the possibilities before destroying one!

    • Savaad, The possibilities are not good. The NSW government spent $2 million dollars to say that it will not happen. A train would not be a tourist attraction like the Rail Trail would be. There is not much worth saving from the existing infrastructure. The main thing is to justify keeping the corridor for public use and not sold off.

  2. So true and a very informative letter.It would be so good to get letters from people that live in towns on rail trails in Australia and New Zealand to tell us how their dying towns have been brought back to life .
    The Otago Rail Trail is open about 6 months of the year because of snow and look how succesful it is,here it would be open 365 days.

  3. I support the proposal wholeheartedly. I have ridden on many rail trails in Victoria and cannot believe that in NSW we have not grasped the great potential of the abandoned tracks.

  4. what a fantastic idea. As cyclist it will save us from going to Ballina to cycle without fear about being involved with traffic.
    Thanks ever so much!!

  5. The rail trail will truly be a winner! I have travelled on 2 rail trails in NZ and Victoria and having been through several tunnels from Mullumbimby to Billinudgel – we will have the best in the world!

  6. This is a wonderful idea which would benefit the whole north coast region through increased tourism and will improve the general health and fitness of the wider community. It could begin by linking Byron with Bangalow and Mullumbimby then proceed in each direction until eventually Casino and Murwillumbah.

  7. I have just moved from Teven near Ballina to the historic town of Auburn in South Australia, at the beginning of the Clare Valley. It is the meeting point of two rail trails. The Rattler Trail is some 19km of trail from Riverton to the south, while the Riesling Trail begins here at Auburn and runs 30km north to and beyond Clare. I live opposite the start of the riesling trail and every day and more so on weekends, groups of bike riders, walkers and family groups head off and later return – or not – finishing their trip at some point along the trail. Local businesses provide bike hire and even pick up or drop off people at certain points. The trails have become an integral part of the tourism experience in the region and even pass several of the winery cellar doors along the way. The Northern Rivers Rail Trail would have to be a winner.

  8. We have ridden the rail trail along the old Burwood Ptt line in Newcastle many times. The Fernleigh Track attracts thousands of walkers, bike riders, families every single day. Not only does it get people moving, exercising and socialising it connects towns and brings the right sort of tourists… not the late night party goers. Haven ridden in Germany and Austria along their excellent bike paths several times with not a care in world of being hit by a B Double , can only support the idea of more rail trails in Australia. Maybe a public meeting on how to go about moving this idea forward is needed. Some positive action for a positive cause.


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