Welcome To The Monaro Rail Trail Project
Will Jardine and his wife Caroline and two children Izzy, 6, and Jack, 3, pose on bikes on the old railway line between Cooma and Nimmitabel. Photo: Dave Moore
Looking out from the Colinton Tunnel. Photo: Monaro Rail Trail
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
We wish to put the disused Monaro rail way line to productive use as a recreational trail for cycling and in doing so boost tourism, the economy and the well being of the region. At the same time we wish to preserve the tunnel, old rail buildings and bridges that are part of the Monaro rail history.
St Andrew's Catholic Church.
St Andrew's Catholic Church.
The old Bombala Railway line passes the derelict Maclaughlin Meat Works, photographed after a light snow fall. Photo: Judy Goggin
About The Proposed Monaro Rail Trail
The proposed rail trail follows the disused rail line from Queanbeyan to Bombala, a distance of 208 km. The first stage of the ride is through timbered country and up a gentle 3% gradient to get out of the Canberra valley. After that it’s a level but winding run to Cooma. From there the line moves through open country to cross the Great Dividing Range near Nimmitabel. Then it’s an easy downhill run through both timbered and open country to the trail end in the township of Bombala.
Along the way there are, cuttings and embankments, timber bridges over creek and river crossings, a 160 metre tunnel and heritage listed stations and freight yards. The rural landscape changes constantly along the route and throughout the seasons. Many Monaro residents believe they have a unique landscape to share.
It is envisaged that most of the trail would be a gravel surface and will be fenced across private land. Near Canberra and Queanbeyan it might be sealed as it could be part of the ACT urban cycle network.
This trail will appeal to many people. People living along the corridor will have easy access for short rides and there will be interstate and international tourists who want a longer ride, perhaps a weekend, perhaps a week. Either way everyone will be riding in a safe off road environment.
The trail represents a great opportunity to boost the region’s tourism economy and to directly stimulate village business trade.
Management of the trail will be done through a voluntary committee made up of stakeholders including business operators, local council and rural landholders.
The association formed in August 2015 to promote the feasibility of developing a recreational cycle trail along the disused rail corridor from Queanbeyan to Bombala. Committee members are from communities along the route.
Benefits Of The Proposed Monaro Rail Trail
Boost Village And Regional Economy
Cycle tourism has much to offer the Monaro. Trail users will only be riding 30 to 50 km a day which means each of the villages and towns along the corridor will benefit from the need to provide refreshments and accommodation. New business opportunities will also be created.
The cycle trail will bring tourists to the region in seasons outside of the winter sports season with the peak cycle season in autumn.
Business studies of the Otago Rail Trail in New Zealand, which is similar in length and geography to the proposed Monaro Rail Trail, reveal that each year over 14,000 riders spend 3 to 4 nights on this trail and the boost to the regional economy was valued at NZ $10 m in 2015.
Preserve Rail History
Construction of the Queanbeyan to Cooma section of the line was completed in 1889 and Cooma to Bombala was opened to rail traffic in 1921. After 100 years of use, the line south of Queanbeyan was closed to commercial traffic in May 1990.
Rail infrastructure still in place consists of the NSW Heritage listed stations and freight yards at Michelago, Cooma and Bombala. Near Bredbo, two timber rail bridges are heritage listed and beautifully show the qualities of trades men’s work in the 1880’s as does the small tunnel. The best way to preserve most of this rail history is to use it. Building a recreation trail will create the need to preserve and maintain this infrastructure.
The existence of this preserved history will create a unique cycling and tourist experience.
The rail line was built to help in the development of the Monaro region. Over the years, factors influencing it’s economic viability changed, perhaps irreversibly, and the rail corridor now lies as a disused and unproductive asset. Development of the recreational trail will hold the corridor as a public asset and put it to use and have it again contributing to the Monaro economy.
Rail trails are a low impact activities.
Construction does not change the footprint of the rail corridor but rails and sleepers are replaced with a semi compact gravel path about 5 metres wide. Cyclists move through leaving only dust in their tracks.
Landcare groups will have opportunity to revegetate some parts of the corridor. In other areas, with remnant native vegetation, more intensive monitoring and management can be provided to manage weeds and protect endangered species.
Cycling is a wonderful form of exercise that can be undertaken with friends and family. A ride on the proposed trail can be for a day, a weekend or the week. Residents of communities along the route can enjoy easy access for short recreation rides and integrating the trail into the ACT urban cycle network will benefit many Canberra residents.
Many cyclist do not feel safe on roads so to have a rail trail offering nearly 200 km of vehicle free riding is a great community asset for the Monaro. Used for cycling, walking or running the trail offers great health benefits to all communities along the route and to tourists who want an active holiday.
Monaro Rail Trail Inc.