A plan to build a cycling trail from Tumut to Tumbarumba, leveraging the Hume and Hovell walking track, has been floated by representatives of two influential community organisations.
With groups across the new Snowy Valleys Council area formulating ideas to access $8.5 million in infrastructure funding, Col Locke and Geoff Pritchard have proposed a trail that would extend the Tumut Riverwalk out to The Junction, and then to Blowering Dam and beyond.
Encompassing the western foreshores of the dam, the trail would wind close to Talbingo, just as the Hume and Hovell track does, and then head up to Tumbarumba, passing by such attractions as Paddy’s Dam and the Pilot Hill arboretum.
Access would be provided to the township of Batlow.
The cycling path is just one of a host of projects being flagged across the region, which include CBD upgrades, heated pools, roadworks and more, but Mssrs Lock and Pritchard are hoping there’ll be broad support for their idea to attract at least some of the funding.
Mr Locke is part of the Gilmore Progress Association, while Mr Pritchard heads the newly-formed Tumut Community Association.
The duo are aware the Tumut to Tumbarumba cycling path would need to be a staged endeavour, but believe the prospect of accessing the infrastructure funding provides a one-off opportunity to create a major tourism drawcard for the region, and one that will benefit various communities from Tumut to Tumbarumba.
“We have one bite of the cherry,” Mr Pritchard said. “This project will be expensive, and it’s hard to see it being done through the normal funding mechanisms.
“It’s a golden opportunity, and it’s up to the community to decide if it wants it.”
Mr Pritchard said a long-range cycling track would fit in with the region’s existing tourism strategy.
While attractive for visitors, it would also be a facility for locals, he said.
Mr Locke said the track would provide easy access to Tumut, Talbingo, Batlow and Tumbarumba, with different stages of the route broken up into three or four hour rides.
The trail was one way to better utilise the attraction that is Blowering Dam, he said.
“As we all know, the dam is already its own postcode at this time of the year,” Mr Locke said. “It’s just such a natural asset, but the western side is fairly under-utilised.”
“Our idea would change that. Imagine a dad going fishing, while his wife and children rode the western foreshores.
“It would be a major project drawing people from throughout the region, and the state.”
Mr Pritchard, meanwhile, said the track would complement plans to reignite the Southern Harvest Trail, which promotes local food producers across southern NSW.
Mr Locke fiercely opposes a proposal for a rail trail from Batlow to Tumut, while Mr Pritchard also voted against that proposal when it was considered by the former Tumut Shire Council last year.
Phil Barton, who has been a driving force behind the rail trail concept, said he supports the Tumut to Tumbarumba trail.
“We are committed to the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project; nevertheless I see a collaboration of concepts would deliver tangible value to the region,” Mr Barton said.
Mr Barton’s group continues to work towards developing a plan for the rail trail and hope to be making further announcements in the near future.
Meanwhile, the state government has already allocated $5m for the development of a rail trail from Tumbarumba to Rosewood.
Snowy Valleys Council will this month hold a series of community forums to help it identify priority projects to be funded from the $8.5m infrastructure fund.
It was allocated to the council by the state government as part of $10m in merger funding specifically for projects. $1.5m has already been handed out to community groups for a range of smaller projects, of up to $50,000.
There’s no cap, however, on this round of infrastructure funding, and Administrator Paul Sullivan will be tasked with the job of allocating the money to worthy projects.
The council has appointed consultants, Lingage, to run the community consultation process.
Projects that are prioritised for funding must meet the following criteria:
- have been through a community consultation process
- demonstrate social and/or economic benefits to the community
- demonstrate project feasibility and value for money, including full lifecycle costs;
- did not have funds allocated by the former councils
The workshops begin January 18 at Adelong and will be held each day for a week, encompassing meetings at Tumbarumba, Jingellic, Tooma, Talbingo, Batlow, Tumut and Khancoban.
Preliminary routes of the proposed Tumut to Tumbarumba cycling trail.