November 2, 2018
The Coverty Creek Community Development group has launched a campaign to extend the South Burnett Rail Trail from Murgon to Proston.
On Friday, the group said the former spur line’s land was still publicly owned, and they want to obtain State or Federal Government funding to convert it into a rail trail.
The railway line between Murgon and Proston opened in 1923 after an eight-year construction effort.
Stops were established at Barlil, Byee, Gueena, Mondure, Kawl Kawl, Hivesville, Kinleymore and Proston, and it helped promote growth through the western areas of the South Burnett from the 1920s to the 1960s.
However, a regular passenger rail motor service on the line stopped operating in 1964, and the 30km section between Proston and Byee closed in 1993, with the remainder shutting down in 1999.
Coverty Creek Development Group president Garin Muirhead said the success of the South Burnett Rail Trail over the past year had prompted the idea.
“Proston and Hivesville are roughly 12km apart and opening the former rail corridor between these two towns would provide a new recreational facility for residents,” he said.
“But connecting Hivesville to Murgon would help funnel tourists into both towns who might not otherwise visit them.”
Mr Muirhead said Proston’s free 72-hour camping area next to Railway Park would provide a perfect place for tourists to park their vehicles if they wanted to start the rail trail there.
There was also potential to create a similar 72-hour free parking area in Hivesville.
Extending the trail to Proston would also effectively double the length of the South Burnett Rail Trail, making it more attractive to endurance cyclists.
Mr Muirhead said he put a notice about the idea on social media late this week, and it attracted strong support almost immediately.
He now intends to discuss the idea with the South Burnett Regional Council, the Murgon Business and Development Association (MBDA) and other interested community groups.
“If we can demonstrate widespread support for this idea, I’m confident we can secure State or Federal Government funding to make a Murgon-Proston extension of the South Burnett Rail Trail a reality,” he said.
Mr Muirhead said he envisaged the new trail would accommodate horse riders as well as cyclists, walkers and runners.
While he would like to see the trail sealed to match the Kingaroy-Murgon section, he was open to the idea of opening it as an unsealed trail in the early stages.
MBDA president Leo Geraghty told southburnett.com.au he supported the concept of extending the trail to Proston.
He said it would be good if it could be sealed, like the Murgon to Kingaroy stretch, but also noted that it passed through several properties.
The idea of extending the rail trail to Proston has also attracted support from the South Burnett Rail Trail Users Association (SBRTUA).
On Friday, president Dafyd Martindale said the SBRTUA had discussed the idea themselves and saw great potential in the Coverty Creek Community Development group’s proposal.
“Our secretary Jason Wyeth rode the Murgon to Proston route earlier this year to assess its condition,” he said.
“He found that while there are a few rough patches and one location that may need a bridge, most of the old railway line could be brought up to rail trail standards without much difficulty.
“Extending the trail to Proston would open up a very beautiful area to rail trail users, as well as bring a much-needed economic boost to Proston and Hivesville.
“We also shared Coverty Creek Community Development’s post on our own social media page and received an immediate, positive response, too.
“So I think our members will be very pleased to officially support this initiative when we discuss it at our next meeting a few weeks from now.”
[Disclosure: Dafyd Martindale is the CEO of southburnett.com.au]