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The announcement of a new rail trail for the Bundaberg region has thrilled cyclists, but they say the news is bittersweet as the project's biggest advocate hasn't lived to see it.
Queensland's Roads and Transport Minister Mark Bailey, who is in Bundaberg this week, confirmed yesterday the State Government and Bundaberg Regional Council would each contribute $9.5 million to build the first half of the 46-kilometre trail from Bundaberg to Gin Gin.
The 23-kilometre stretch will run from Bundaberg to Koolboo Road via Sharon.
Mr Bailey said the trail would rival the scenic rail trails popular in New Zealand, but with better weather. No construction date has been finalised yet, but Mr Bailey said it would start as soon as possible.
"We'll get that 23km done in this project with $19 million and then we'll look at extending it even further to finish off the whole vision," he said.
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said the trail would be another tourist drawcard for the region.
It is hoped the planned Bundaberg-Gin Gin Rail Trail will put the region more firmly on the tourist map.(ABC Wide Bay: Eliza Goetze)Cycling group Bundaberg Mad Cycologists secretary Rhianna Steindl said rail trails across Australia and New Zealand attracted cyclists from all localities and skill levels.
"Even my kids would be able to ride on it, it's nice and smooth, nice gradient, and you get lots of beautiful scenery," Ms Steindl said.
Want more local news? Subscribe to the Wide Bay Weekly email newsletter."You can invest a lot of money to see these types of things (elsewhere).
"To have it on our doorstep — and to just ride down and off you go, I'll be using it regularly. We're really pleased and excited about it."
'Sad, Roy didn't get to see it'
Bundaberg's cycling community says Roy Fraser was a real advocate for safe cycling.(Supplied: Rose Fraser)But one of the rail trail's biggest supporters will not be around to see it become a reality.
Ms Steindl said former Bundaberg Mad Cycologist member Roy Fraser, who had pushed for a rail trail for the Bundaberg region for many years, would have been thrilled.
Mr Fraser died of leukaemia on July 9th.
"It's very bittersweet for us because we're so excited, but also a little bit sad that Roy didn't get to see it come to fruition as well," Ms Steindl said.
Rose Fraser — a keen cyclist herself who introduced her husband Roy to his passion — said he had been a tireless advocate for safe cycling.
"Everywhere else we went, capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne, had better cycleways than what we had," Mrs Fraser said.
"So he just started pushing for them."
As part of the Bundaberg Mad Cycologists, Roy Fraser became an enthusiastic attendee of council meetings to advocate for better footpaths and cycleways around the region.
Mrs Fraser said, "I'm really sorry that it happened so soon after he died.
"He would have just been unbelievably excited."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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