August 31, 2013
Tourism opportunities in the South Burnett received a major boost on Friday (August 30) in the form of a $550,000 grant from the Federal Government to develop a “rail trail” linking Murgon to Kingaroy.
Federal Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon came to Gayndah bearing the gift, which is not dependent on the result of the upcoming Federal Election.
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said the rail trail would follow the old railway line which passes through Murgon, Wondai, Tingoora, Wooroolin, Memerambi, Crawford and Kingaroy.
“It will be a large boost for tourism,” he said.
It would also supplement the success of the Linville to Blackbutt, and Nukku Road to Yarraman, sections of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, allowing the South Burnett to be promoted as a “rail trail centre” for city visitors to explore and enjoy.
The Murgon to Kingaroy route is 43km long and will be open to walkers, runners, pushbikes and horse riders. Motorised traffic won’t be allowed.
As it follows so closely to the Bunya Highway, it is also expected to provide an economic boost to the smaller towns along the way.
The historic rail bridge at Tingoora will be preserved, although the trail will be bypassing it to one side.
Council will also have to construct a new crossing between Murgon and Wondai, but the cost of this has been factored into the grant money, Mayor Kratzmann said.
He said the good thing about this project was there would not be “one cent of cost” to the ratepayers of the South Burnett.
It will also enable the rail corridor in each of the town’s CBDs to be developed and improved.
This would include streetscaping-type work in Murgon, Wondai and Kingaroy.
In Kingaroy, the corridor passes from Youngman Street through O’Neill Square and out to Taabinga State School.
Mayor Kratzmann said the funding had been announced at an opportune time as the State Government was currently removing the old rail tracks throughout the area.
“It’s the perfect time. The project had to be ‘shovel-ready’,” he said.
Mayor Kratzmann said he would be going to Brisbane on Monday to discuss the ongoing maintenance of the trail with State Government representatives.
[UPDATE August 31, 2013]