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Trail treasure

Tuesday, 7th April, 2015

The former Broken Hill to Silverton railway is already a favourite for local and visiting cyclists, and a similar trail between the city and Cockburn could also prove popular. The former Broken Hill to Silverton railway is already a favourite for local and visiting cyclists, and a similar trail between the city and Cockburn could also prove popular.

By Darrin Manuel

Could the region’s forgotten rail lines unlock tourism and recreation opportunities for the city? Rail Trails for NSW Coordinator John Moore certainly thinks so.

Mr Moore will be travelling to the city this week for a tour of the area, and will also meet with Council about the Rail Trails for NSW initiative.

Rail Trails aims to create shared-user paths along unused railway corridors, removing the old tracks and replacing them with road base, gravel or a sealed surface.

The path can then be used for a variety of activities such as walking, cycling, horse riding, or mountain bike events.

As most rail lines were designed in the steam train area, there are very few sharp rises or falls, and no sharp bends.

The lines also cut through hills and gullies and cross over gullies and creeks, providing an ideal path on which to explore the outback.

Mr Moore said there was great potential for a rail trail to be built between Broken Hill and Cockburn, and in turn the creation of a cycling event between the two centres.

He said $50 million in state government funding was available for Rail Trails, and added that Broken Hill could be one of the most “unique and mind-blowing” trails in the country.

Broken Hill Mountain Bike Club spokesman Nick Algate said the idea would be welcomed by local riders, with many already using the disused Silverton line.

Parts of the old track have been used for time trial events, and as sections of the annual Poker Race.

“We’d most definitely be interested, it’s something that could benefit the community through a tourism and cycling point of view,” he said.

“I’ve been on different rail trails before and they certainly do attract tourists, so if money was spent to develop one it would have to be a bonus for the town.”

Mr Algate said people could enjoy the track in sections, or head all the way through to Cockburn and relax on arrival.

“Fifty or sixty kilometres might sound like a long way, but for some riders that’s just a Saturday morning,” he said.

“If we could get a four to five stage race ... or a point-to-point event off the ground, I think it would have a lot of appeal.”

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