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Excitement and expectations are running high in the community of Rushworth, as a funding announcement is made to extend the existing Murchison Rushworth Rail Trail into their town.
With the opportunity of a Federal Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants being allocated, the Campaspe Shire Council has recently unanimously approved to fund the extension of the Murchison to Rushworth Rail Trail by matching the $1.5 million grant being provided by the Federal Government.
Federal member for Nicholls Damian Drum said numerous benefits — during and after the construction — would flow on as a direct result of the project.
“New jobs will be created during construction and once completed, the hospitality industry and other local businesses can expect to benefit from the growing trend of rail trail holidays,” Mr Drum said.
The Rushworth community had previously saved much of its former railway’s infrastructure within the town’s urban area, and have been seeking to compliment this by connecting the existing Murchison Rushworth Rail Trail connected with the town to boost the local economy.
The Greater Shepparton City Council and the state government had previously funded this rail trail’s initial construction project, which saw a trail section between Murchison and Channel Inlet Rd officially opened on February 27, 2015.
Yet there was much more potential for extending that short section of rail trail further westward.
“We are very excited about the project and are looking forward to the community consultation process,” Rushworth resident and rail trail advocate Kerrie Raglus said.
“With the project’s full funding confirmed, its understood that planning work is under way by council and they will go out to the community to get their input before agreeing to the final trail.
“This combined federal and shire council’s funding is a fabulous outcome.
“For the Rushworth community who have been waiting over 20 years for this dream to come to fruition, this successful outcome is credited to those trailblazers who had the initial dream.”
The project’s current target date for completion is expected to be mid-2023, and with a previously published Campaspe Shire’s plan to link Murchison and Rushworth with the O’Keefe Rail Trail at Heathcote, it is hoped the City of Greater Bendigo council will again jointly support this proposed linking trail based upon the latest funding announcement.
“The linking of two rail trails presents huge potentials to gained from creating an attractive connected trail network,” Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail community group’s Garry Long said.
“Based upon other rail trail experiences, these trails provide additional economic support to businesses in smaller towns such as in this case Rushworth, Murchison, Heathcote and Axedale.
“It would be great to see the completed Murchison Rushworth Rail Trail being linked to Heathcote and Bendigo, so that trail visitors can experience the natural forest environments like the Whroo Nature Conservation Reserve, as well as take in some of the wineries along the way, stop off at a brewery and stay a night or two locally.”
The Girgarre Stanhope Rail Trail (part of the same Murchison Rushworth former railway branch line) is also being extended to connect those two communities by a trail.
This article first appeared on www.riverineherald.com.au
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