Tell council we want scenic trail gateway

2 September, 2022

Put up or shut up. Not that our friends at Mt Alexander Shire Council would say so impolitely, of course!

But that’s the gist for two big plans the shire council is hatching that will have a very big impact on how one “gateway” to our trail will present to thousands of visitors each year. 

With a couple of hundred visitors expected to leave or arrive via Castlemaine Railway Station, that makes the trail’s “gateway” a big deal.

Over the next few weeks, the Council is listening intently to what shire residents think about a redevelopment of Camp Reserve. The historic reserve lies on the eastern doorstep of the station, and a long neglected arboreal avenue beside it would make the best location for a trail start.

We need Trail Blazers who live in Mt Alexander Shire to tell council by 22 September what you want. Here’s our suggestions.

Camp Reserve

What we need for the Reserve and in terms of the trail are:

  • a dedicated cycling and walking path beside Barkers Creek that “announces” our trail by linking the railway station to the Botanic Gardens and The Mill to the north and Campbells Creek Trail to the south
  • maintaining scenic and historic features of the Reserve including the western grassy hill and not chopping down trees or burying more than two thirds of the hill under several hundred square metres of concrete as the Council is currently proposing
  • sympathetic development of the Reserve that helps celebrate it as “ground zero” for Castlemaine’s Goldrush heritage, including the historic Gold Commissioner’s Camp

Shire residents have until Thursday 22 September to give Council your feedback https://shape.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/CampReserve.

Council is moving steadily towards detailed plans for the Reserve’s redevelopment. That means your feedback is urgent and important. The Council is working to a 2019 master plan that replaced a 2011 plan that had a more trail-friendly outlook.

A local community advocacy group has put forward an alternative design for the Reserve. The alternative design is more congruent with what our trail needs. You can compare it with the Council plan.

The group’s design includes an unimpeded creekside pathway that would link visitors with the Campbells Creek Trail (to Guildford) or up to The Mill. The council plan (currently) contains nothing for the trail.

Railway station precinct

The precinct around the Castlemaine Railway Station is also a big deal for the trail.

Things we’d like to see are:

  • direct access from the station to a a dedicated cycling and walking path beside Barkers Creek that connects to the Campbells Creek Trail and then onto our trail proper
  • provision for interpretative and other signage that helps trail visitors navigate the trail route and learn about the precint’s history and many attractions nearby
  • better cycling and walking access between the historic station and goods shed and the The Mill and Botanic Gardens nearby as visitor destinations
  • more places to lock up bicycles (there are none really)
  • other creative possibilities for scenic and safe access along a major north-south tourism and community spine for the township   

The Council is much earlier in its planning for the railway precinct than the Reserve that it abuts.

Council is asking Shire residents to provide ideas and feedback to help shape its precinct master plan by 15 October 2022  https://shape.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/castlemaine-railway-precinct-master-plan.

Cycling and walking strategy

Later this year, we’re expecting the Council to rejuvenate its plans for a new cycling and walking strategy. The last 10-year strategy expired in 2020. We’re hoping the strategy gives a prominent place to our trail. 

CMRT has made a proactive contribution towards the foundations of the strategy over the past year or two through umbrella group, Mount Alexander Cycling (MAC). CMRT is a foundation member of MAC, an advocacy group that champions the interests of cyclists across the Shire.

The group recently won support for increased funding for a cycling “black spot” at Fogartys Gap that has taken the lives of several cyclists. 

CMRT has also been involved in shaping Central Goldfields Shire Council’s cycling and walking strategy. Central Goldfields recently nominated the trail as one of its most important tourism-related infrastructure developments for the next decade.