Rail trail concept expands

Rail trail concept expands

Sir, – The Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail (TBRT) Project committee is pleased to announce major enhancements to the Rail Trail Project.

After months of research both in Australia and New Zealand, coupled to ongoing planning and consultations with concept participants, we are pleased to inform the community of major design improvements to the project plan.

A key part of any rail trail project is in identifying and maximizing economic benefit for communities within the rail trail footprint, and it is to this end that we are excited to present the inclusion of a “spur line” (cycle/walking trail) from the proposed Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail.

The spur will run from the “Gilmore Interchange Park” at Gilmore (near the Batlow turnoff) to a Gadara track-head near the Visy Industries Mill.

This pathway along a five kilometre section of the disused railway corridor will encourage contractors and employees of Visy Industries to avail themselves of the opportunity to cycle to and from work.

It will also give tourist and local users the opportunity to safely view from a distance, the impressive industrial estate.

From the proposed Gadara track-head at Batchelor Way (below Visy), cyclists and walkers will then be able to continue along Reka Road to Racecourse Road, onto a pathway that will meander along Golden Gully track onto Camp Street.

At the end of Camp Street it will be a short 200 metres into Adelong’s main street.

The Gilmore to Adelong rail trail link will allow the businesses and tourist attractions in Adelong to share in the spoils of “Rail Trail economics” also colloquially known as wallets on wheels.

The other major advancement is the addition of a fully mapped and route charted inter-connection between Batlow and Tumbarumba, a 42 kilometre cycle/walking trail linking the Batlow Rail Trail head with the township of Tumbarumba.

It will provide a practical and safe pathway for all levels of cycle enthusiasts, well away from main road traffic.

The scenic trail passes by orchards on the edge of Batlow, pine plantations in Bago State Forest, Pilot Hill Arboretum and magnificent natural hard wood terrain as it meanders along well-formed tracks through to Tumbarumba.

We are currently in advanced discussion with relevant industries and authorities to seek their comment and where necessary approvals.

Great care has also been taken in mapping and route charting the proposed course, with design imperatives of safety and ease of use for patrons.

The plan includes colour coded position markers and an emergency plan with easily identifiable emergency services access points from off the main Tumbarumba-Batlow arterial road.

The Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail committee is hopeful of fast tracking approvals for the Batlow-Tumbarumba link in the coming months to encourage adventure cyclists to start using the scenic course as soon as possible.

We are heartened to read that the Gilmore Progress Association recognise and endorse the benefits of cycle tourism (TAT January 2017), but regrettably they display limited knowledge of rail trail development and the associated economic value well planned rail trails deliver.

Their proposal of an adventure course from Batlow via Blowering Access Road to Snubba down into Blowering Dam with links to Talbingo has merit, but will only appeal to the extreme adventure cyclist, a very small sector of the cycle tourism market.

The Tumut Batlow Rail Trail proposal incorporates multi use pathways, catering for all ages and all non-motorised (electric powered are acceptable) forms of transport; it encourages users to traverse along a bitumen pathway for as far as they wish to, in absolute safety away from vehicular traffic.

Our extensive research tells us grey nomads, mum, dad and the kids are not going to venture down forestry roads such as the high traffic Blowering access road, nor are they going to attempt distant gravel road cycling in areas of remoteness such as around Blowering Valley.

The ever increasing world of cycle tourism will have a huge and positive impact on Tumut, Batlow, Tumbarumba and now Adelong; all that is needed is the small number of landholders in the Gilmore Valley who oppose the rail trail to come to the table so concerns can be aired and solutions cooperatively achieved.

In the meantime we have received enough adjoining landholder “in principal support” to seek finance for the commissioning of our preferred professional rail trail planners who will produce a viable, detailed and credible Rail Trail development plan.

We look forward to keeping the community informed of developments during 2017.

Yours etc,

Phil Barton

Chairperson

Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project.