September 28, 2017
by Dafyd Martindale
The South Burnett Rail Trail will be officially launched on Sunday with community celebrations in Kingaroy, Wooroolin, Wondai and Murgon.
The celebrations are a centrepiece of this year’s South Burnett and Cherbourg On Show long weekend festival of events, which will be offering almost 40 events across the region from Friday evening (September 29) to Monday afternoon (October 2).
The South Burnett Rail Trail is a 43.5km stretch of the longer Kilkivan to Kingaroy Rail Trail, opened on September 22 after a two-year construction effort by the South Burnett Regional Council and Gympie Regional Council.
Because the South Burnett section crosses the tick line, the South Burnett Regional Council took a decision to seal the section between Kingaroy and Murgon and only open it to walkers, runners and cyclists; the unsealed section between Murgon and Kilkivan is open to horse riders as well.
The South Burnett’s rail trail festivities will kick off at Kingaroy’s O’Neill Square (the corner of Haly and King streets) at 6:00am on Sunday (October 1).
The Kingaroy Lions Club will be serving up breakfast as a fundraiser. There’ll also be arts and craft stalls, and South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell will give a brief speech about 6:15am.
At 6:30am, a procession of cyclists, then runners, then walkers will leave the station to cycle, run or walk the Rail Trail to Murgon.
Members of local running groups will also carry a special South Burnett Rail Trail baton for use in the afternoon’s opening service in Murgon.
Famous Australian long-distance runner Ron Grant will be part of this group.
In 1983, Ron was named Queensland Sportsman Of The Year when he ran ran 13,383km around Australia in 217 days, going on to be named Queenslander Of The Year and receive a Medal of the Order Of Australia in 1984.
For the convenience of people who join the walk, water stations will be set up along the route in Kingaroy, Crawford (5.33km away), Memerambi (5.78km), Wooroolin (4.97km), Tingoora (6.07km) and Wondai (8.39km).
In Wooroolin, morning tea will be available to buy at the CWA Hall from 9:00am; and in Wondai, the Wondai Regional Art Gallery will be supplying a barbecue lunch, toasties and pancakes for a small fee between 11:00am and 1:00pm.
There’ll also be lots of children’s entertainment in Coronation Park, as well as a performance by the Wondai Town and District Band and the opportunity to view entries in the South Burnett Art Competition and the Faces Of The South Burnett photography exhibition in the Art Gallery.
In Murgon, the focus of festivities will be the former Murgon Railway Station opposite the post office in Lamb Street..
The day will kick off at 8:00am with the Cherbourg Warrior 5km Fun Walk/Run, which will be followed by seven hours of family-friendly activities that will include billy cart races, pig races, more than 40 market stalls plus food and drink stalls, a jumping castle, face painting, an animal show, art displays, heritage displays, amusement rides and a fishing display and competition.
Entertainers including Muddy Flats, Arthur Nettelfield, Deadly Hedley Fisher and more will perform on stage from 9:30am to about 3:00pm.
In Goomeri, horse riders will gather at the Goomeri Showgrounds on the Burnett Highway to set off along the unsealed portion of the rail trail at 9:00am on the inaugural Cherbourg Horse Ride, an all-ages social ride that aims to reach Murgon in time for the official opening.
At 2:00pm, Ron Grant and the official party will arrive in Murgon in a horse-drawn carriage led by members of the Light Horse Brigade, and the entertainment will pause briefly for the Mayor’s last speech of the day.
Cyclists, walkers and runners who are concerned about returning from Murgon to Kingaroy at the end of the celebrations don’t have to worry.
Shuttle buses will be running between Kingaroy and Murgon all day for walkers and runners, and bike transport will be running from Murgon and Kingaroy at 5:00am, noon and 3:00pm for cyclists.
Bookings for the bike transport service can be made by contacting the Kingaroy Visitor Information Centre on (07) 4189-9172.
Visitor Information Centres in Kingaroy, Wondai and Murgon will also have timetables for the shuttle bus services.
The South Burnett Rail Trail attracted some criticism when it was first announced but has drawn approval from locals and visitors since the bitumen seal was completed in June.
The trail’s Facebook page has quickly attracted 1500 fans, and several local groups have announced they are planning to hold regular annual events along the trail, ranging from festivals to foot races.
Properly marketed as a regional tourist attraction, the Rail Trail has been forecast to inject more than a million dollars into the South Burnett’s economy each year, providing a lift for all the towns and villages along its length.