August 20, 2019
Nanango should prepare to welcome a steady stream of tourists in the years ahead, and residents should get used to the idea that many of them will be wearing lycra.
That was the key message at the official opening of The Link on Saturday morning.
The Link is a 55km route that connects the head of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) at Yarraman to the start of the South Burnett Rail Trail (SBRT) in Kingaroy, using the combination of an old stock route from Yarraman to Nanango and lightly trafficked roads between Nanango and Kingaroy.
Combined, the BVRT, The Link and the SBRT form a continuous 305km trail from Wulkuraka to Kilkivan that is one of the longest of its kind in Australia.
A crowd of about 50 people gathered at the former Nanango Railway Station platform in Pioneer Park to officially open the new facility, which has been quietly operating since April.
Official guests included David Kenny and Mark Gaedtke from Nanango’s Heritage Bank, which paid for the cost of signposting The Link route; Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington; councillors Roz Frohloff and Ros Heit from South Burnett Regional Council; and former Nanango Shire Mayor Reg McCallum.
Other guests included a large group of cyclists from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Users Association (BVRTUA), led by president Paul Heymans; the president, secretary and members of the South Burnett Rail Trail Users Association (SBRTUA); and the president and secretary of the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail, which will ultimately link Gayndah to Gladstone.
Mrs Frecklington was full of praise for the project, which she believes will create a new stream of tourists for Nanango.
“Thanks to The Link we now have the longest continuous cycling trail in Queensland,” she said.
“What an exciting day for the South Burnett! There really is no greater part of the world, and I’m really proud of this.”
Mrs Frecklington also paid tribute to Reg McCallum for the role he played in the development of rail trails over the past 21 years, particularly the BVRT section between Blackbutt and Linville.
“Back in 1998, Reg shared his dream of creating a horse track down the Blackbutt Range with a few of his fellow councillors,” she said.
“We really wouldn’t be here today without Reg because it was his initial idea that made all this possible.”
Ms Frecklington said she was confident The Link would attract many people cycling and riding into Nanango in future, and when they did they would be looking for places to eat at and places to stay.
“This will open up all kinds of tourism opportunities for the South Burnett,” she said.
David Kenny agreed, saying it was now possible for anyone to take their bike on a train, get off at Ipswich and embark on a four to five-day bush adventure riding the trails.
This meant the South Burnett now had ready access to a market of 2-3 million people.
Even if only a small fraction of that market used the trail, it would still bring tremendous benefits to the region.
David also praised fellow board members of Nanango’s Heritage Bank for backing the idea of signposting The Link, producing a brochure for it and funding transport for cyclists to the official opening.
He said Heritage had a long and proud history of supporting Nanango’s development, and this project was another example of what Heritage was doing for the community.
David said the next step would be to explore the development of “loops” that would take visitors on short trips off The Link.
These loops would slow visitors down and give them deeper insights into the countryside they were passing through.
Similar “loops” have been developed near Blackbutt, and the SBRTUA also has seven loops in preparation.
BVRTUA president Paul Heymans told southburnett.com.au that ever since the final “missing link” section of the BVRT between Toogoolawah and Moore had been opened last August, usage of the BVRT had continued to climb.
He was confident The Link would fulfil a useful role in connecting the two rail trails, and looked forward to further upgrades being made to it over time.
[Disclosure: Dafyd Martindale is president of the SBRTUA]