It was a chilly start to the day at Joyces Creek last Thursday morning as a group comprising Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards, Ripon MP Martha Haylett, members of the Rail Trail group and representatives of both Mount Alexander and Central Goldfields shire councils met. The still water and shady trees, with the rail bridge towering overhead, lent a special atmosphere to the launch. The feasibility study has found that the 60 km of disused rail corridor can be profitably repurposed as a recreational trail.
CMRT President Dr Janice Simpson opened the launch with a welcome to country. Maree Edwards also paid tribute to the Dja Dja Wurrung – who often speak of Djaara land as “upside-down country” following all the changes wrought by settlers – and stressed their involvement as a high priority. The Moolort Plain is a very significant natural environment, and indigenous knowledge will be a vital part of this project. She also noted the novelty of two adjoining councils working so co-operatively together!
While plenty of work remains to be done, the economic benefits will be significant. The study, made possible by state government funding, found that the trail will increase economic output in both shires by around $24m every year and support up to 160 new jobs in communities along the trail. It expects tens of thousands of visitors.
“A trail can help thread the many powerful attractions this region has and knit the communities along the trail even closer together,” said Dr Simpson. “Rail trails in other regions have shown how they can bring added prosperity to smaller communities through jobs and new businesses. This trail will too.”
This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 1 September 2023.