Rail trail would shine tourism light on under-rated gems
A "BACKBONE" through the region linking some of its best attractions with underrated locales and world-class scenery is the dream of those pushing the Northern Rivers rail trail.
Here is a list of some of the highlights of the region that could be immediately blessed with more interest from tourists and locals once the trail is built:
The Casino Mini-Railway and Museum: Visitors could explore the history of trains in the region and take a fun ride on the country's longest mini-railway before they set off on their adventure.
Muckleewee Mountain bike/hike, Bentley: The rail corridor runs past the base of Muckleewee, potentially allowing a hiking trail or even bike trail to be built up the ridgeline of this magnificent local landmark and into the Bungabee State Forest, providing great views across the pastoral landscapes of Rock Valley, Larnook and Bentley.
Union St, South Lismore: The beautification of this edgy urban strip might involve a nearby cafe, a historical visitor centre at the Lismore station, retro shops and galleries, and provide a great new entrance to Lismore.
Villages: Eltham, Billinudgel and Burringbar: Three picturesque hamlets with a handful of shops and pubs in Eltham and Billinudgel. Ripe for bed-and-breakfast stops and cafes for visitors.
Booyung Big Scrub remnant: A rare patch of unfelled lowland subtropical rainforest with existing tourist walk and interpretative panels, just a few hundred metres from Booyung hamlet where the rail trail will run.
St Helena ocean views: A chance to build a lookout over one of the most stunning views in the country. A signature rail trail rest stop.
Tweed Shire tunnel: A 500m tunnel in the heart of firefly and glow worm country.
Burringbar Permaculture Academy: A chance to learn about permaculture and growing organic vegies.
Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah: A chance to contemplate some art before setting off along the trail, or as a final destination.
The rail trail would also encourage new trails off the main corridor, creating a choose-your-own adventure for tourists and locals alike, according to rail trail supporter Will Jeffery.
"The rail trail will be the spine of an integrated network of pedestrian and cyclist trails, because the success of the rail trail will inspire other non-rail trails to evolve," he said.