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The prospective Castlemaine – Maryborough rail trail has taken a critical step forward, with $120 000 of funding secured through a state government tourism grant.
The successful joint bid for funding was made by the Castlemaine–Maryborough Rail Trail Association, and both the Central Goldfields and Mount Alexander Shire councils.
The proposed rail trail will be a world-class build spanning 55km and commemorating Central Victoria’s gold rush and railway heritage.
Starting from Castlemaine, riders will travel along the Campbells Creek Trail to Winters Flat where the disused train line begins, and then through scenic farmland to Guildford.
Riders will then weave through bush and riverway to the old Newstead railway station and then to Carisbrook via the Lake Carin Curran Reservoir and Moolort Silos, before finally gliding into Maryborough.
A major benefit for the rail trail is that there is a train station at both ends, which can transport budding riders from Melbourne and elsewhere.
In February, the Rail Trail Association ran a campaign to raise $18 000 of co-contribution funding for the rail trail, in a bid to attract state support through the Victorian Government's Enabling Tourism Fund. An additional $12 000 was pledged by the Central Goldfields and Mt Alexander councils.
The funds will be used to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study, carefully outlining the demands, benefits and investment return. A feasibility study is an essential first step for the rail trail, as it is for all infrastructure projects, as it will outline important justifications for funding, construction and success.
"This is a milestone day for our trail and the community," the association's President, Janice Simpson, said.
"We have had resounding support from every quarter of the community over the past two years. This is a day for Trail Blazers."
"The trail can bring up to 30 000 visitors and another $8 million each year into towns along the trail, and provide safe commuting and accessible wellbeing opportunities for thousands of local people," she said.
The feasibility study is expected to start in late spring where consultants will be appointed, and will conclude in early 2023.
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