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A presentation was given to the District Council of Mount Remarkable on Tuesday advising them of the research and findings of their Rail Trail development research study.
TrailScapes and Birdeye Studios were engaged by the council, using $18,000 from the Building Better Regions Funds to research the viability and create plans for the completion of the project from Stone Hut to Wilmington.
Their findings complemented what was created in 2008, the Southern Flinders Ranges Cycle Tourism Master plan, which makes specific reference to the benefits of rail trails and the importance of active recreation throughout the region.
About 35 kilometres of the rail trail has already been developed including sections between Laura to Gladstone, Laura to Stone Hut, Wirrabara toward Stone Hut and Melrose to Wilmington.
What is projected to be built is a stretch from Gladstone to just before Laura, a patch from just after Stone Hut to just before Wirrabara, Wirrabara through to Booleroo and then onto Melrose.
The projected costings have been done for a gold plate option which is estimated at $13 million, with the council now requesting a costing for a slightly slimmer trail and it is expected the trail will be completed in separate stages.
The Chief Executive Officer of the District Council of Mount Remarkable Wayne Hart says that they have been investing large amounts of money into the pre-existing trails already due to the importance that biking holds to the community and they want to continue that into other towns.
“I think it is not only in Melrose, but it is Wirrabara and Wilmington, by having the rail trail, all the small towns along that trail will benefit”, Mr Hart said.
“That is the main thing with tourism, it gives a greater expansion, a greater opportunity for people to go into different areas and experience such things as Wirrabara Forest, Alligator Gorge and Melrose itself. It is about everyone having that opportunity to explore more of the district and the Flinders Ranges.”
Rowan Ramsey was vital in securing the original funding for the studies and he too believes that tourism in South Australia, specifically the Flinders Ranges is incredibly important.
“I think it is a sign the Government has a pretty good idea of what is going on in the country which is hardly surprising. We know that if we want small communities to survive and thrive, we have to invest and the Australian taxpayers have to back these communities.”
“Here along the Flinders Ranges is a great opportunity for tourism, it is one of South Australia’s greatest assets. There is an increasing interest in bike riding so that is why there is a focus on bike trials, that is family engagement good for the health and soul.”
Downhill biking is already internationally promoted in the region and the council hopes that the trail addition can create a bigger picture of biking for all ages and abilities.
This article first appeared on www.theflindersnews.com.au
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