In September 2004 Victoria’s East Gippsland Rail Trail received a $660,000 Regional Partnerships grant to extend the trail 28 kms east from Nowa Nowa to Orbost on the Snowy River. The 100 km long trail will open on Saturday 28 January 2006, five years ahead of the initial estimate, with a community barbecue – ribbon cutting event.

This Rail Trail, a shared cycling, horse & pedestrian path, starts at the Mitchell River in Bairnsdale, 280 km east of Melbourne. It runs past picturesque farmland, crosses the spectacular trestle bridge over the Nicholson River, at Nicholson, continues 22 kms on to Bruthen, crosses the Tambo River and passes through the Colquhoun forest en route to Nowa Nowa and Lake Tyers on the coast, at the 59 km mark.

Michael Oxer, Committee of Management Secretary, says the Rail Trail is a “significant addition to tourism infrastructure in East Gippsland….and already it is generating a growing interest for visitors from outside the region. We have notice of several interstate groups preparing to make extended visits and in particular to take up the challenge of completing the full length of our nationally significant rail trail.”

A bus will take riders and bikes from Bairnsdale, Bruthen and Nowa Nowa to Orbost for the ride from Orbost to Nowa Nowa starting 9.am. Visitors to the Opening Day can walk or ride the Rail Trail from any point West or East of Nowa Nowa to arrive for 12.15 pm ribbon cutting – by Peter McGauran the Member of Gippsland – with a BBQ lunch to follow. Everyone interested in the development of the rail trail is welcome to attend.

WHAT DID IT TAKE TO ACHIEVE THIS?
Over a decade or more, Michael Oxer says:
1)”a conversation in a Bairnsdale bike shop about cycling and the closed rail line led to a community group being formed;
2)there were many discussions with MPs, the Dept of Natural Resources & Environment and the wider community;
3)a series of small grants to clear the overgrown trail area were won;
4)a larger grant of $70-$80,000 was obtained to ‘redeck’ a vital bridge;
5)difficulties lay in getting cooperation between different management levels;
6)the formation of a Friends Group widened community/business support and awareness;
7)The Friends, numbering 80-90 set up a website and a newsletter;
8)the cost of the Nowa Nowa-Orbost was estimated at $500,000 + and approx. five years to raise the money;
9)timing was with the group and local MP Peter McGauran presented the Rail Trail with a Regional Partnerships cheque for $660,000 in September 2004.
10)Now the question is one of managing real estate – the Rail Trail is 100kms long – a huge management task for a voluntary committee!”

FOR MORE INFO VISIT: www.eastgippslandrailtrail.com or ph 5156 8228

The East Gippsland Rail Trail has the support of eight ‘Accommodation Friends’ and seven ‘Commercial Friends’. On 13-14 May 2006 there will be a Buchan Weekend round trip: on Saturday, riding from Orbost to Buchan and on Sunday from Buchan to Orbost via Nowa Nowa and the railtrail. The overnight stay will be with accommodation friend, Buchan Valley Log Cabins, hosts Peter and Rosie White email: enquiries@buchanlogcabins.com.au – cost approx $40 per person, $80 double. Restaurant facilities will be available for the Saturday evening.
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT: Keith ph 03 5154 1232

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