October 4, 2019
The South Burnett Regional Council will conduct a feasibility study into extending the South Burnett Rail Trail from Murgon to Proston.
The study has been paid for with a grant from the State Government’s Rail Trail Local Government Grants program.
It will be carried out by recreation trail planners Mike Halliburton Associates, the same firm which conducted a feasibility study into the South Burnett Rail Trail.
As part of the study, Mr Halliburton will be holding community consultation sessions in Murgon, Mondure, Hivesville and Proston on Tuesday, October 8.
They will be held at:
South Burnett Regional Council Mayor Keith Campbell said the sessions were designed to assess community support for the project; user experience; commitment to ongoing maintenance; and demonstrated benefit to the community.
“The sessions will also address issues and concerns which will allow both the Council and community to be fully informed regarding the proposal,” the Mayor said.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the project would investigate a potential rail trail along the disused 45km rail corridor connecting Murgon and Proston.
“Rail trails support active, healthy lifestyles, allow for the innovative use of disused infrastructure and help preserve and manage the environment,” Mr Bailey said.
“That’s why we allocated $14 million between 2017-18 and 2020-21 to help councils build walking, bike riding and horse riding trails on disused state and local government rail corridors.”
The railway line between Murgon and Proston opened in 1923 after an eight-year construction effort.
It fuelled significant growth in western portions of the South Burnett up to the 1960s.
But the decline of dairying in the 1950s led to freight services being cut, and a regular passenger rail motor service on the line stopped in 1964.
The 30km section between Proston and Byee was closed in 1993, and the remaining 15km section was shut in 1999.
The call to convert the line to a rail trail was issued last November by the Coverty Creek Social Club.
At a public meeting called by the group at Proston in early January, a motion that Council conduct a feasibility study into the idea was carried by a majority of the estimated 50 people in attendance.
However, a small number of farmers objected this, citing concerns about their on-farm chemical use and loss of privacy.
Those objectors later presented a petition to the Council opposing any study.
This was countered by a petition from people in favour of the project being impartially examined.
Councillors then voted 5-2 at their January meeting to apply for a grant to conduct the study, with several arguing since there was no cost to ratepayers there was no harm having the matter expertly studied.