The Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund has provided $125,000 towards significant upgrades to a local section of the High Country Rail Trail in 2018/19. Works will include resurfacing the rail trail within Wodonga to improve the connection to Sandy Creek, and replacement of toilet facilities at Huon Reserve.
Amongst the many users of the trail, Bonegilla Rail Trail Advisory group representative Joy Bayes is thrilled with the news; “The unrideable rail trail into Wodonga has really limited the potential of the High Country Rail Trail. This will make all the difference”.
The Bonegilla Rail Trail Advisory Group, under the auspices of Parklands Albury Wodonga, has worked hard to bring together the elements of this upgrade. In addition to the commonwealth funds, the project involves significant contributions from community (Bonegilla Rail Trail Advisory Group), Indigo Shire Council and Goulburn Murray Water, as well as many hours of volunteer time.
Parklands Albury Wodonga staff believe that bringing the rail trail surface and facilities up to standard on the Bonegilla section will bring a whole new aspect to the High Country Rail Trail as it links with the Murray to the Mountains trail. Parklands estimates the completion of this project is likely to generate at least 5,000 additional users to the trail per year, with benefits for tourism and hospitality in the region.
Patronage on this particular section contrasts with the sealed and gravel Sandy Creek to Old Tallangatta section, which increased significantly when the Sandy Creek Bridge was opened in 2012 and again when the Ludlows Reserve to Huon Reserve section of the Lake trail was graded, gravelled and rolled.
The recent increases in rail trail use mean the toilet facilities at Huon Reserve are currently operating beyond their capacity. Once the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail extension from Beechworth to Huon is complete, there will be even more pressure on Huon Reserve. The upgrade will use designs developed by Indigo Shire Council for a low maintenance facility that will provide toilets of the standard and capacity required.