What was once an important supply chain for early colonialists living on the Victorian-New South Wales border is fast becoming a popular outdoor adventure attraction for Gannawarra County.
- Funding has been allocated to plan and design a rail trail between Kerang and Koondrook
- The trail will be part of the longer Murray River Adventure Trail
- Future plans will see the trail extend from Kerang to nearby Ramsar listed wetlands
The Victorian government has handed over $500,000 to begin planning and design work for a 22 kilometer cycle and walking path between Kerang and Koondrook.
The trail will follow parts of the old Kerang-Koondrook tram route, which delivered supplies to Kerang from the Koondrook wharf, transported downstream by paddle steamer.
Built and operated by the County of Swan Hill (later the County of Kerang) from 1889 until 1952, when Victorian Railways took over, the tram was privately owned, had no signaling and had longer construction rails light.
Gannawarra Shire Mayor Charlie Gillingham remembers the trams running when he was a child.
Victorian Railways operated passenger services on the line until 1976 and freight services ended in 1978.
Koondrook Quay was dismantled by the Marine Board in the late 1950s and in 1975 the railway hub was removed, but a replica steam train stands at the old Koondrook Station just opposite from the wharf today.
From the supply chain to the eco-tourism adventure course
In recent years, the redevelopment of the wharf and the emphasis on ecotourism and outdoor adventure along the Murray River have created new opportunities for the area.
The Kerang and Koondrook Railway Trail will eventually extend from Kerang to Ramsar-listed Lake Charm and Lake Reedy.
It will be part of the wider Murray River Adventure Trail – a multi-sport adventure trail that stretches along the Murray River from Lake Hume near Albury-Wodonga in the east to Mildura and Wentworth in the east. ‘west.
This trail passes through the river’s red gum forests and major sites along the Murray, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the iconic river in its natural environment through active recreation.
The land trail is approximately 1,040 km, while the water trail (for kayakers and other watercraft) is 1,390 km.
State Deputy Mark Gepp said it was a real asset to northern Victoria and would turn the Murray River into a “magnificent” tourist opportunity.
“It’s about connecting all these different projects, this different equipment and infrastructure in Gannawarra, which are not done in isolation from each other, but are designed to connect with all the wonderful things that are happening here.”
Safer off-road bike paths for cyclists
Loddon Murray Cycling Club chairman Brent McKnight said when completed, the Kerang-Koondrook rail trail would be ideal for local cyclists and tourists alike.
“A lot of our members do that, when they go out to visit different areas, take the rail trails,” he said.
“But unfortunately we have to travel quite a distance to do it, so it will be new for us. It will be fantastic.”
He said it should be a good way to connect people who may not be avid cyclists, with the 22 kilometer length easily done in just over an hour “depending on which direction the wind is blowing. “.
“Most rail trails aren’t so much a sealed surface as they are made up of hard-packed gravel, which makes it difficult to use a proper road bike,” McKnight said.
“However, the introduction of a lot of mountain bikes and what we call gravel bikes, which are a bit like hybrid bikes, are perfect for a rail trail.
Region recovering from pandemic border restrictions
Gannawarra Shire Council chief executive Tom O’Reilly also has high hopes for the project.
“Once complete, this project will drive economic growth in the area through increased visitation and spending, while improving community well-being and livability, as well as employment opportunities for local trades. and indigenous labor through construction and new product development,” he said.
The state government has accelerated funding for the project to support recovery in Gannawarra County and the Northern Border Region, which was heavily impacted by travel restrictions in the first two years of the pandemic.