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Byron Shire
March 31, 2023

Tweed rail trail first weekend a success

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Photo Aslan Shand

The Tweed Shire section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail opened last week and its first weekend saw the trail in full use by walkers and cyclists enjoying the trail. 

Parking at Stokers Siding we had decided that we would walk to the large tunnel between there and Burringbar to see the glow worms, and if we were lucky the microbats. 

Nola at the Stokers Siding general store and Post Office. Photo Aslan Shand

We dropped into the Stokers Siding General Store and Post Office to pick up a quick drink and any advice before we headed off. 

Nola who runs the general store said it had been a really successful weekend with lots of cyclists and walkers enjoying the rail trail.

‘It was the best weekend we’ve had since the 2017 Cyclone Debbie,’ she said.

‘People have been coming from all around, locals people from the Gold Coast. Everyone has been really friendly and enjoying the rail trail.’

We checked out the map at the information area before we started out and in retrospect, I wished they had put the approximate distances on there to give us a guide to how far we were attempting to walk. We had somewhat underestimated the return journey to the Burringbar Tunnel which is closer to 11km than the six we had estimated. 

Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Photo Aslan Shand

The walk took us through a range of countryside from areas of lantana and camphor to native forests and little creeks. The walk was easy and accessible for all abilities and we saw a great range of users on the track as we sauntered along. There were family groups with young children through to elderly couples as well as plenty of young people together and in groups cycling by. 

The e-bikes were very popular making even the small inclines that we traversed easy for them. 

Glow worms on the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Photo Aslan Shand

Once we reached the Burringbar Tunnel we spent quite a bit of time wandering through the cool and refreshing space, enjoying the pitch dark in the middle and calling out to other people walking and cycling to let them know where we were. Many of the cyclists seemed to move through the tunnel quite quickly but as walkers, we were able to slowly let our eyes adjust to the dark and find the delightful tiny glow worms that were scattered throughout. 

On our return journey the Mooball Pub, officially known as the Victory Hotel Mooball, was a great place to quench our thirst with beer and fire engines and enjoy a pizza. 

Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Photo Aslan Shand

24km so far

The Tweed section of the rail trail is 24km and runs from the heritage-listed Murwillumbah Railway Station to Crabbes Creek and features 26 bridges and two tunnels. There are plenty of different spots to access the rail trail up and down the line. 

This is the first completed stage of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, which will eventually stretch 132km from Murwillumbah to Casino, passing through four local government areas including Tweed, Byron, Lismore and Richmond Valley.


A big community celebration will be taking place on 25 and 26 March to encourage people to enjoy the rail trail. 

There are also a range of videos and information on the Northern Rivers Rail Trail website as well as safety tips to ensure everyone can get the most out of their experience.


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  1. It is fffing awesome. Went twice last week for a ride and heading tomorrow for a walk to the Burringbar Tunnel . I knew it would be good but didn’t expect it too far exceed my expectations. After having done the Otago Rail Trail twice , the Murray to Mountains in Victoria once , the Brisbane Valley Rail Twice and the Atherton Tablelands Rail Trail once my thoughts are it beats them all as it suits a much wider demographic of society .
    Walkers , runners , cyclists , dog walkers , prams , children, wheelchairs etc can all use it and they have .
    The only major downfall is that is doesn’t go all the way to either Billinudgel or for the icing on the cake go to Mullum or with some Green unblinkering to Byron Bay/Bangalow .

  2. of-course it was, get people outside being active and socialising, lets complete the trail in byron and lismore shires!

    anyone against the rail trail is opposed to generating positive outcomes for our community.

  3. If you love this region, then just wait until you venture out onto our brand new walking and cycling Rail Trail, if you haven’t already.
    I think everyone wished for the trains to return, way back 19 years ago when they were ceased in 2004.

    But almost all of us have seen the truth of the massive costs and declining use.
    For me, it was 2 years after, then 7 years after that, the NRRT formed, and it has been 10 years of telling the truth to people since, and eventually winning grants and councils’ votes and now we ALL have 23.7kms of magnificent Rail Trail to enjoy.

    But some important points before passing through the wonderful 525 metre long dark Burringbar Tunnel…
    … TAKE A TORCH …
    and forming Single file and staying on the left-hand side, is definitely the only sensible way to travel through the tunnel.

    It’s awesome to experience without the distraction of conversation.

    Our job is to be safe, to see others, to be easily seen and to enjoy.

  4. MMM- it’s such a success no numbers of people using it are given. But hey, there’s three people and a dog in one photo and five in the other-could be the same people, looks like the same dog.

    The money spent of this tourism and recreational gimmick for a few, compared to the little extra required to get the trains running for use by millions-is obscene.

    This means millions tourists will be forced to travel to this region in filthy gas guzzling cars, increasing emissions, climate disasters and more pain for so many already doing it tough.

    In this fast growing region with millions of tourists creating traffic gridlock, Echo was once supportive of the community’s need for train services and very critical of the National Party and their dodgy scheme to destroy a multi-billion- dollar train line. Seems the Echo now supports the National Party and this travesty.

    Even National Party MP for Tweed, Geoff Provest, knows there’s no community support for this disaster. Instead of being front and centre in photos promoting himself, in the photos of the opening he can hardly be seen. He’s spent a fortune on election ads in the Tweed Valley Weekly but never mentions the bike track as he knows very well there’s no votes in it for him.

    • Give up the nonsense Louise Grinch. There were literally thousands of people on the trail last weekend. Wait until you see it at Easter. Far more than were ever going to use a pointless train to nowhere that anyone needed to travel. Returning trains would have cost ten times as much as the trail cost and be far more expensive to keep running.

      People who had previously been negative about the trail are already expressing a change of heart after seeing first hand how so many people are enjoying the trail and what a boost it is to the small businesses in the villages along the way. You should try it yourself.

    • Louise, you’re a clear candidate for some fresh air and natural discovery, instead of spending another 19 years grieving, waiting for a train that aint gonna arrive..
      You could also rejoice in the fact the corridor will be safely held in public ownership, thanks to the Rail Trail’s existence.

    • Looks like Louise has never heard of ECO TOURISM. If there is a way of travelling on a rail trial I’ll take it any day comapared to travelling by car. The longer the rail trail (just look at the BVRT and the KKRT) the better, it means slowing down and spending money at regional towns than just quick jaunts to major attractions and then back to your hotle room. As the saying goes “Buid it and they will come.”

    • Tweed Mayor, Chris Cherry has released the first trail usage counts at the Rail Trail Forum 2023 which is being hosted in Murwillumbah.

      8000 (eight thousand) people in the first ten days. (I don’t think they had the equipment to count the dogs.) So that period included just one ordinary weekend, no public holidays or long weekends and no school holidays. Our trail is already well on its way towards becoming Australia’s most popular rail trail.

      So let’s have no more nonsense claiming that hardly anyone is using it.

  5. I spent three hours at the Murwillumbah Station on Saturday and hundreds of people went by walking or riding a huge variety of wheeled machines. They were of every age from preschoolers to elderly of every shape and size with a lot more clad in cotton than Lycra. One certainly would not cross the trail without looking both ways first.

    I watched the excited faces setting out and returning. Some stood out, such as a young boy who had obviously been working hard excitedly jumping in the air exclaiming, ” I did it!”. The sense of achievement that kids get being able to join in with activities that big people do is so beautiful. It is truly something for the whole family from the very young to the great grandparents to enjoy together . This only possible because the trail has been built to the highest standard with quality surfaces and minimal gradients throughout.

    Later, I walked with my wife out to the tunnel from Upper Burringbar. What a beautiful walk. The cool breeze coming out of the tunnel was so refreshing. We spent a little while talking to people in Burringbar on the way home. Such a friendly atmosphere and so many smiles.

    Even thinking about the multitude of happy people enjoying our wonderful new trail brings tears of joy to my eyes.

  6. Such a sad sack are you it seems Louise.
    Buses replaced the trains –
    if you forget about living in the past you may feel better.

  7. There’s always got to be one hasn’t there Louise! It’s a real winner and you just can’t handle that can you Louise.

  8. The rail trail proponents spend as much time assuring us that the rail corridor will never be returned to its original purpose as they do extolling the virtues of lycra & bicycles. The agenda is clear. There are well-connected parties who would love to get their hands on the many hectares of railway land in, say, the central area of Byron Bay. Last time I checked land in this locality changes hands on the open market for several thousand dollars a SQUARE METRE. Of course if it is sold off the public purse won’t get much of the potential several hundred million dollars – sweetheart deals with old mates will occur.

    • The rail trail legislation that will be applied to the corridor in Byron Shire does not transfer ownership. It enables a thirty year lease for the purpose of building and operating a trail. The Minister for Transport can terminate the lease at any time for any public transport purpose without further legislation. It explicitly states that no compensation is payable if the lease is terminated.

      The agenda is perfectly clear and has absolutely nothing to do with disposal of the land. The railway advocated agenda is a scare campaign that has worn so thin it is now completely transparent.

      Most of the thousands of people on the TVRT last weekend were not wearing Lycra.

    • If you have to resort to cheap shots at Lycra, you mustn’t have much of a case.

      The rail activists have had a couple of decades to get the rail service back if it was ever going to be viable. Why on earth deprive those who enjoy the outdoors the wonderful opportunity the rail trail provides through sheer stubbornness. If you want to see rail as a truly effective part of the public transport plan save your energies to lobby for a service that will achieve it.

  9. If people had decent facts, rather than anecdotal stories from a few cyclists, about the benefits of the trail without rails compared to the benefits of trains that would take millions of gas guzzling cars off our roads, and could also take bicycles, they wouldn’t need to persist with the erroneous, personal attacks. Doesn’t enhance your credibility in any way.

    Again, we have photos with few people or cyclists in them. Not good value for $14.4 million of taxpayers’ money. People refuse to address the query: if the rail trail has so much community support, why isn’t Geoff Provest MP shouting from the rooftops about it? He never mentions it as he knows very well there’s little community support, or votes, for him in this disaster. Even the “big celebration” will take place after most people have voted. Says it all.

    You’d have to be dreaming to think local people will trust that the corridor is safe in the hands of the same dodgy government who went to such lengths to remove the protective legislation from the rail line to allow the land to be sold (how many ICAC investigations are underway?) and promised this community for so many years a train service that would be “an environmental, social and enormous cost benefit” to the community.

    • I agree Kim: promoting eco tourism, encouraging and providing facilities for healthy, outdoor exercise and all-age family activity, encouraging bikes and e-bikes as transport with improved infrastructure in an otherwise perilous road system for slower vehicles, having fun and enjoying our spectacular country – nothing there that anybody needs.

  10. Checked the rail trail and WOW it definitely exceeded my expectations! The scenery is constantly changing and breathtaking. The 500 metre burringbar tunnel is impressive. We went late Saturday arvo and it was still busy with cyclists and walkers. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces. This trail will become a major tourist attraction in no time! Can’t wait until it extended to Byron and beyond.

    A shame Louise is still rattling on about the trains -; time to take a walk on the rail trail Louise!

  11. it’s a clear win, 99.9 percent of the community are absolutely rapt. as for that 0.01 % well I reckon they should get on a bike and give it a go.
    Now we just need to extend it through to byron

    • Byron people have seen the huge, filthy gus guzzling vehicles and utes lining the streets in front of locals’ homes in tiny, usually quiet, towns. Just as we knew they would be. That’s NOT eco tourism!! Byron has far too many gas guzzling vehicles causing traffic gridlock. They want to get rid of them, not encourage more.

      As one cranky Tweed local said about the cyclists “if they don’t stop before crossing busy roads they’re going to be cleaned up”. That’d go down well in Byron and Mullum. Bikes trailing across across already busy roads causing further traffic gridlock-there’d be riots. There’s nowhere to park their gas guzzlers anyway. Byron locals are sick of people parking in front of their homes. They want people to travel to the area by train-there’s train stations in the centre of Byron, Mullum and Bangalow-no need for gas guzzlers spewing emissions.

      The talk of the bike track increasing economic activity in towns is also hyped up. Locals complain that cyclists spend little money, apart from a few drinks and snacks. Most shops selling anything else are empty or closed, even on the weekend.

      Even cyclists are complaining about the lack of consideration from other cyclists on the narrow cycleway. “Not worth the trouble-wouldn’t do it again” some said. No way of getting off once you get on. How are emergency vehicles or police supposed to get access if needed? Certainly not safe for anyone in wheelchairs or walkers trying to dodge fast moving ebikes!

      The cashed up cyclists’ organisations are expert at spin-but the reality is quite different. But hey, it’s only costing taxpayers’ $14.4 million!!

      • Louise’s hysteria and hyperbole have reached extreme levels. Referring to “gas guzzlers” four times in two paragraphs destroys its impact.

        She derides “anecdotal stories from a few cyclists” then offers the comments of “a cranky Tweed local” and someone who supposedly claimed the trail “was not worth the trouble”. Yet she has never even been to the trail and seen the thousands of happy people. Really Louise your credibility a past wearing thin and is now in complete tatters.

        Very few people used the railway to get to Byron when it was here. Since then we have modern cars, a motorway and low cost airfares. Byron visitors are not going to use a tortuously slow train that would take up most of their holiday just getting here from Sydney and there never has been a railway to south east Queensland. Nobody is going to build one.

        Business is booming along the trail.

        The trail has been specifically designed with access for emergency vehicles.

  12. This is great news for the Northern Rivers Rail Trail and the community! It’s always wonderful to see people enjoying the outdoors and taking advantage of new spaces for activities like cycling and walking. It’s also great to hear that the Stokers Siding General Store and Post Office is doing well because of the trail. I’m curious, what other activities or events are being planned for the trail’s future? Are there any plans to expand the trail or connect it to other trails in the area?


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