The Hunter should not miss out on tourism potential

Greens Cr Michael Osborne has today called on the Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, to fund an engineering design study for the Richmond Vale Rail Trail, after the Minister announced funding for an engineering study into the Northern Rivers Rail Trail on the far north coast.
 
“This is terrific news for the Northern Rivers and the announcement shows that the State Government recognises that cycleway rail trails can make a significant contribution to a regional economy, especially in terms of the tourism potential,” said Cr Michael Osborne.
 
“The Minister for the North Coast, National MP Don Page said the Northern Rivers Rail Trail had enormous potential for the Northern Rivers area of NSW. The Minister for the Hunter, Nationals MP George Souris should be recognising the value of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail for the Hunter and be lobbying for the funding,” said Cr Michael Osborne.
 
“Cycleway rail trails are recognised in Australia and overseas as being an attractor for tourists and participation in cycle tourism is growing domestically and internationally,” said Cr Michael Osborne.
 
“A 2011 study from La Trobe University found that tourists using cycleway rail trails are regularly outspending the average tourist to the region,” said Cr Michael Osborne.
 
The Northern Rivers Rail Trail links Casino to Murwillumbah via cities and towns including Lismore, Bangalow, ByronBay, Mullumbimby and Billinudgel. Rail services on the 132 kilometre corridor opened in 1894 and were discontinued in 2004.
 
The Richmond Vale Rail Trail was built in the 1850s (the earliest section from Hexham to Minmi was built by John Eales in 1856 to service his colliery at Minmi – it was sold in 1859 to J & A Brown which became Coal & Allied), is 28 kilometre long and runs from Hexham, through the Sugarloaf Range to Pelaw Main, near Kurri Kurri. It was among the last commercial railways in Australia to use steam locomotives.
 
Newcastle Council has commenced an Environmental Assessment for that part of the cycleway rail trail in its local government area.
 
Coal & Allied are in negotiations with the NSW Government to transfer the entire rail trail lands into the National Parks Estate.
 
Northern Rivers Rail Trail funding announcement
 
La Trobe Cycleway rail trails study
 
Background on the Richmond Vale Rail Trail
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