Mary to Bay Rail Trail a step closer

Hervey Bay firm Engineers Plus has been appointed to undertake detailed design and survey work as part of the proposed Mary to Bay Rail Trail along the old rail line that links Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway easement into a multi-use path, typically for walking, cycling and horse riding.

Fraser Coast Councillor for Sport, Recreation, Open Spaces and Events Darren Everard said engineers will be investigating a number of design and construction aspects along a 10km stretch from Urraween to Takura.

“The Mary to Bay Rail Trail could open up a whole new tourism and business market for the Fraser Coast but there are a number of factors to consider,” he said.

“The engineers will look at bridge design and costs over a number of crossings as well as suitable surface material; we’re looking at sealing some sections to make it more family friendly.”

Cr Everard said the engineers will also investigate possible connection points to surrounding streets and road crossings.

“Connection points would allow users to pick and choose which areas of the trail they want to travel and would be ideal for families with young children to access the trail,” he said.

“They would also allow better emergency access in the case of an accident which is obviously very important.”

Fraser Coast Regional Council worked closely with Queensland Rail and the Department of Transport and Main Roads to remove the remaining major rail infrastructure between Takura to Colton late last year.

Crews salvaged historical items including mile post markers, points levers and old signage which will be used in points-of-interest displays along the route.

The design and survey work will start in June is expected to take around four months to complete. A final report detailing the engineer’s recommendations and cost estimates will then be presented to Council.

Council is investigating external funding options including state and federal government grants to build the trail.

It is proposed the trail would be built in two stages as funding becomes available:

Stage One – Urraween to Nikenbah

Stage Two – Nikenbah to Takura

Rail Trails have become popular tourist attractions across Australia and overseas.

“We could learn from other regions that are reaping the benefits of rail trails including the Claire Valley in South Australia, Otago in New Zealand and, closer to home the Brisbane Valley,” Cr Everard said.

“The trail would open opportunities for tourism and small business ventures like cafes, tea house and bed and breakfast establishments along the route or bike and equipment rental to name a few possibilities.”

Caption: Rail trails such as Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway have become popular tourist attractions across Australia. Photo: JOCELYN WATTS
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