We have begun the next chapter!

Immediately prior to Easter we applied to the Victorian Government’s Enabling Tourism Fund (ETF) for $400,000 to complete the next stage of the trail, the Pre-Construction Stage.

Mt Alexander and Central Goldfields Shires have pledged $40,000 each to co-fund the grant, and our wonderful supporters and donors have contributed a further $18,000. We also have a generous pledge of $20,000 from the Community Bank Avoca, Maryborough and St Arnaud part of the Bendigo Bank.

Our community has spoken loudly and clearly. We want a world-class rail trail that can be used by everyone: walkers, bike riders, those who use mobility aids and those who push prams. A safe place for commuters, fitness fans, families out for a stroll or scoot. A joyful place to appreciate birdsong and the seasons.

As Jason Kerr, Dja Dja Wurrung elder, said at our recent walk from Maryborough to Casrisbrook along the disused rail line:

To achieve anything we must walk together”

We have walked with many during out CMRT Journey which began in August 2020. And they have walked with us. Thank you to our Parliamentarians, Councillors, Council Officers, Dja Dja Wurrung, schools, service clubs, community groups and the media.

Thank you to members and supporters and kind strangers. To everyone that have made something achievable. We are very grateful for the generous support received.

Donations from members and supporters permitted us to pledge $20,000 for the Enabling Tourism Fund 2024, and along with the pledges from Mt Alexander and Central Goldfields Shires of $40,000 each, and the $20,000 pledge from Community Bank Avoca, St Arnaud and Maryborough, part of the Bendigo Bank, we were able to apply for $400,000.

If we’re successful, the funds will allow us to fully complete the pre-construction stage of the trail, thereby making it shovel ready in December 2025. That is an exciting prospect indeed.

We couldn’t blaze this trail without our donors.

Maryborough Lions Club, Maryborough Rotary Club, George Western Foods – Don KR, Guildford Progress Association.

Paul De Sipio, E J Gilcrest, Kendall Alford-Madden, Isabel Ashton, Megan Ballinger, Steve Bateman, Owen Bentley, Evan Bottchert, Bruce Boucher, Des Boucher, Kerry Calcroft, V M Capicchiano, John Carruthers, Aimee Chapman, Richard Charles, Christine Christie, John Cook, Darryl Coulthard, H M Cronin, Helen Curran, Tom Danby, Moira Darling, James Dawson, Anna De Villiers, Paul Di, Val Dwyer, Mick Evans, Joni Fitzgerald, Nathan Gallacher, Lisa Jane Gilcrest, John Gleeson, Sian Green, Deborah Green, Kevin Griffiths, Lynette Grocke, Barb Gruen, Margit Gundert, Koby Hagenfelds, David Harmer, Laura Harris, Steve Harrison, Greg James, Elisa Jane, Chris Johnson, Peter Jovic, Norman Kaye, Paul Kent, Delphine Laboureau-Ormancey, Maria Lacey, David Laybourne, Martin Linzaat, Deborah Macer, Lucas Maddock, Jo Middleton, Colin Moore, Geoffrey Noblet, Neil Oliver, Daniel Pillard, Tiana Preston, Greg Ralton, Lexi Randall-Estrange, Cameron Ribbins, Bev Robinson, Margaret Ryan, Ian Saunders, Andrew Shirres, David Silvagni, Peter & Fiona Silver, Janice Simpson, Jenny Sinclair, Jan Sinclair, Jenny Stewart, David Tuck, Gayle Wallin, Maureen Welch, Gail Weston, Pippa White, Christopher Williamson, Graeme Wood. There were a number of donors who preferred to remain anonymous.

If our application is successful, the ETF will contribute a further $400,000 which will enable us to complete the following essential works before we can contemplate construction.

$500,000 will deliver:

  1. Cultural Heritage Management Plan – it will assess any conceivable impacts the trail may have on Indigenous Cultural Heritage.
  2. Ecological and Environmental Study – it will ensure that the environmental values along the trail do not pose an unacceptable risk to implementation.
  3. Lease Negotiations – to ensure the project can confidently proceed, VicTrack who manage the former railway line land need to agree a long-term lease. We already have written acknowledgement from VicTrack that they will do this.
  4. Reference Design – to guide detailed design and cost planning, gain required town planning approvals, and as a tool to assist community consultation.
  5. Consultation with landowners of properties adjoining the trail and the general community will allow all to share thoughts whilst promoting the opportunities and a sense of ownership of the trail.
  6. Consultation with land managers and authorities to ensure the design adheres to required standards and necessary approvals are obtained.
  7. Establishment of an operating model for the on-going management of the rail trail.