“I remember a butcher, a baker, a general store, two pubs, two hotels, two garages, two schools, and a preschool,” the
47-year-old said. “It used to be a saying: ‘Nobody could come through Nimmitabel and not have a beer.’ ” The once-bustling logging railroad, which stretches 214km from Queanbeyan, ACT, to Bombala in southern NSW, is now rusted and overgrown, but in Mr Jardine’s eyes it’s the pathway to restoring at least five country towns to their former glory. He’s working to have it converted into a scenic bike trail, as Victoria has successfully done with several of its disused
railways. “It’s a no-brainer. It would be one of the longest rail trails in Australia,” he said. “The scenery it goes through is
unreal (and) it would start at a capital city with an international airport.” Mr Jardine is part of the Monaro Rail Trail committee, which is pushing to have a feasibility study done into the project. “It would go through Michelago, Bredbo, Cooma, Nimmitabel and Bombala,” he said. “And by our rough calculations, it would put $15 million into these towns every year.” Each cyclist — Baby Boomers, he hopes — will spend roughly $200 a day in the towns on a trip that would take five days. “At $1000 each trip, with a conservative estimate of 15,000 people per year, it’s a no brainer.” Mr Jardine and several others, all avid cyclists, have been working on the project for about 18 months and have so far encountered resistance from some local landholders, state member and Deputy Premier John Barilaro, and the administrator of the newly amalgamated Snowy-Monaro Regional Council, Dean Lynch. “At the moment, we just want the feasibility study, which we think would cost about $50,000,” he said. “Victoria has opened dozens of these trails, and thousands of people travel there to ride them. “I didn’t see a feasibility study on the amalgamations, the greyhounds or the lockout laws. “These people made all these decisions to end things in a heartbeat, but they can’t make a decision that would actually create something for the community.” Mr Barilaro said the NSW government is taking a “measured approach” to rail trails, and “any decision to convert a rail corridor will be made with thorough community consultation to make sure we get it right.” The local federal MP, Labor’s Mike Kelly, supports the project and said it would help address underemployment issues in the community.
Source: The Australian, 20th January 2017.