Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail, an economic driver for our region

“It’s unbelievable the amount of money that’s just flowing down that (Brisbane Valley) rail trail”

Leah, owner, Linville Hotel

Recently members of Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail traveled to the Brisbane Valley to meet with Ambassadors from that trail. We stayed a few days to have a look around and drove the highway from Fernvale to Linville.

It is quite remarkable to see how busy the towns on the Trail are with Rail Trail activities. Cyclists abound, and in traffic you are quite often following a car with bikes on the back.

The trails in this area have the obvious advantage of being closer to Brisbane. However, many visitors to the trail have been national and international in the past, and hopefully in the future.

The Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail has unmatched scenery and unique attractions quite unlike other trails. It will offer a different experience.

Tourists, in this case, cyclists and bush-walkers travel far and wide to experience attractions like the Burnett River Bridges with beautiful river scenery, the tunnels on the Dawes Range in the south of the Boyne Valley and the beautiful countryside and water views across the Awoonga Dam .

I sat down with Leah from the Linville Hotel to ask her about its effect on her business, and how the Trail has grown the economy of the town.

It is remarkable that the pub shuts at eight o’clock each night. It is quite simple. Cyclists on the Trail go to bed early and leave very early in the morning. This gives them peace and quiet for a good nights sleep.

An Image Gallery from the Linville Hotel

The new owners have been able to upgrade the hotel to service the increased trade from the Trail. Facilities are first rate. Photos taken mid Friday afternoon, a quiet time.

Click/tap on the image to open the gallery.

There has to be a bright side to adversity somewhere. The pandemic has definitely increased usage of the Trail according to businesses in the towns dotted along the BVRT.

Growth in the economies of these towns is tourism and service related. While coffee shops and other services may struggle in city centres in future with fewer people visiting and working in CBD’s, the safe environment of the Trail and rural communities is contributing to growth.

A new business, created to service the Rail Trail.

Out There Cycling started four and one half years ago with one twelve seater bus. They now have six buses with bike trailers and five permanent staff providing bike hire, bike service, cycling tours and shuttle services to the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, the Kilkivan Kingaroy Rail Trail and the Link Trail.

Economic growth in towns along the Trail.

All the towns along the Trail are busy servicing people, mainly cyclists, with bush-walkers and horse riders also using the Trail.

Esk

We stayed in Esk and took time to look around. It is a town of under 2000 residents, and a good example of a community benefiting from the Rail Trail .

Esk Motel, modern brick building
sign on wall at Esk Motel "Rail Trailers Welcome"

The motel we stayed in is a small modern business with eleven units. It had a prominent sign on the wall welcoming Trail riders so I asked our host about the effect of Rail Trail visitors on their business.

She replied that, out of eleven rooms (fully booked) that night seven were to do with the Rail Trail, that bookings were good for the next several weeks, with the following two weekends fully booked with Rail Trail users.

Of note for us when driving into Esk was the Thai restaurant, (only serving take away due to Covid 19) and the Esk Fruit Shop.

We enjoy genuine Thai food, and this was excellent (went back on the second night ). There was a steady stream of customers while we were there, tourists and locals.

The Fruit Shop stands out, and is beautifully presented. We had to have a look and found excellent fruit and veges as expected, along with all those things a tourist looks for to have with drinks after a day out. They are catering to a newly developing market.

Behind the town is “The Mountain”. We heard several times about how Somerset Council Council has just purchased it. I understand they intend to develop it with several trails which will suit adventure cyclists and walkers.

mountain behind Esk

Moore

Welcome to Moore, attractive street with flowers

Moore is interesting. I drove through there some years ago. It looked like many small country towns that are in decline, with one shop.

A couple of the Rail trail Ambassadors we met told us how they were going to have to shut the Memorial Hall before the Trail got going.

Now they have the “Supper Room Art Gallery” (Art, coffee and cakes) in the Hall, and there are three other coffee shops in the main street.

ee shops

The Future

While the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail is only in the early stages of development, it has the potential to drive economic growth in all the country towns along the corridor. Our Feasibility Study predicts 14000 people would use the Trail in its early days after opening.

It mentions a Trail in Western Australia.

“It is always difficult to predict the economic impact of a new trail. Visitor numbers on the Bibbulmun Track (in WA) grew from 10,000 when the new alignment was first opened in 1997 to 137,000 in 2004 (Colmar Brunton 2004) to over 167,000 in 2008 (Colmar Brunton 2009) to over 300,000 in 2015 (Hughes et al 2015).

It would be a good thing to extend the Trail into the middle of Calliope (it now starts at Taragoola). This is possible, but there are hurdles and will take a deal of time.

It would be a natural thing then, with good promotion, for Rail Trail visitors to travel to Gladstone to experience the trails on Curtis Island while they are in the Region.

At present, the Trail at the southern end does not quite get to Gayndah, and work needs to be done to make this possible. Another adventure for the future.

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