Rail Trails are Versatile
A rail trail is more than just a walking track. It can be used for marathons and fun runs, eco-tourism, festivals and events and workplace training in tourism, construction, engineering, environmental science and a host of other disciplines. Redeveloped Town centres bring beautification and public amenity and railway infrastructure liabilities are converted into valuable working heritage assets with the preservation of historic bridges, tunnels and station buildings.
A rail trail between Casino and Murwillumbah could be the “Jewel in the Crown” of sustainable living and sustainable tourism in the Northern Rivers, a linear Nature Reserve and Botanical Garden designed to demonstrate the diversity of the ecosystems of the region, a “Hallmark” attraction. The corridor is magnificent with frequent road access points, historic bridges and tunnels and wonderful towns and villages that should have art and entertainment precincts instead of abandoned railway yards. This would particularly be the case for Byron Bay should it have a magnificent pedestrian avenue with absolute beach access and a much less expensive town centre bypass.
Byron Bay is a premium global destination with an established international tourist demographic highly likely to make use of the trail. The trail could provide valuable community and tourism infrastructure for short distances (in and around Byron Bay), medium distances (Murwillumbah to Stokers Siding) as well as a full range of options for longer journeys up to 130 kilometres. Bangalow to Byron Bay through to Mullumbimby has the potential to become one of the great trails of the world and an absolute “must-do” for many visitors to the region.
A rail trail could be the very answer to the old question about how to draw tourism dollars inland from the coast, a dream scenario for tourism and hospitality operators. Casino could be positioned as “The Head of the Trail” which could potentially change its tourism outlook very significantly. Just as significantly, Murwillumbar with its extensive rail yards would make an ideal Railway Museum doubling as niche market accommodation and dining. Bangalow has a glorious green zone right in the heart of the village that would make a spectacular botanical garden with tea rooms. The Lismore Railway yards, connected to the CBD with a pedestrian bridge across the Wilson River (a current proposal), could be transformed into an important community asset greatly enhancing both sides of the river as well as the river bank parklands.