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Now other towns in the region want to join the ride, but archaic NSW government legislation frustratingly stands in their way.
It says everything that Tumbarumba is the first rail trail in NSW built on an ex-government line, while in bike-forward Victoria there are more than 1000km of rail trails built on government tracks.
The new trail between “Tumba” and Rosewood took 15 years of campaigning and fundraising from a group of passionate locals led by Owen and Cathy Fitzgerald.
Built on the old Wagga Wagga rail line, it runs for 21km through classic Australian grazing country and vineyards growing some of the nation’s best cool-climate chardonnay.
The determined couple have been proved emphatically right for the their persistence, which is not only attracting impressive rider numbers but is also giving locals a world-class bike trail and the opportunity to exercise.
It’s a win-win and other local towns like Batlow, which also has a rail trail lobby, want their own.
Everyone can see the benefits, they are well proven through countless case studies in Victoria, where they’re very popular and have enhanced the tourism appeal of numerous country towns and regional centres.
Tumbarumba is clearly benefitting from more visitors and new business opportunities, exemplified by the local nursery Tumba Bikes and Blooms diversifying into e-bike hire.
So why is it so difficult to get a rail one in NSW?
Will Owens from Rail Trails Australia is frustrated by the situation and says planning must be streamlined to allow the construction of more rail trails.
He says they’re so difficult to build because in NSW you need an act of Parliament to “close” a rail line – and that’s clearly not an easy thing to do.
He says the Snowy Valleys region is well-placed to lead the way if planning was relaxed and that the “next best opportunities” on government lines in NSW are:
Goulburn to Crookwell
All of these options are south and west of Sydney. “There is some activity on northern rivers trails, one of which is meant to be going for a NSW parliament vote shortly,” says Owens.
He adds that while all these proposed rail trails “have hard-working local groups, none will happen within 5 years without more (govt) support.
“Meanwhile Victoria builds more and NSW is missing out.”
So come on Gladys*, get on your bike and make it easier for regional towns to diversify their economies and attract more tourists and revenue.
This article first appeared on www.traveltrends.biz
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