The National Trust of Australia (WA) is working with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River and the City of Busselton on the development of what is anticipated to be an iconic Western Australian trail. The 106 km world class recreational, tourism and educational trail will showcase the natural, Aboriginal and historic heritage values of the former Busselton to Flinders Bay Railway.
Located in one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots, Western Australia’s South West is one of the most beautiful areas in the state and home to rich Aboriginal and European histories. The area boasts internationally renowned surf beaches and a world class wine industry.
The Wardandi and Pibelmen Nyoongars have lived in the south west of Western Australia for around 40,000 years and depended on the coastal wetlands for their needs. Since European settlement, they have continued to have a strong connection to their country and have also worked in the developing timber, railway and farming industries.
We are Wadandi remember, it means people of the sea, we never stayed away from the ocean too long. We followed the railway line when there was work but we always went back to the coast, we are saltwater people.
MC Davies was the most prominent of timber moguls in the district. His empire expanded rapidly in the 1880s including the laying of a number of railway lines to service his mills and take timber to jetties at Hamelin and Finders Bays for export. By 1913 the timber industry had declined and the railway from Augusta to Margaret River was bought by the government. It was extended to Busselton by 1925 to service the remaining timber industry, the original group settlements, farming and domestic passengers. The line eventually closed in 1957.
Now more than 50 years on, the trail is destined to carry people on a different type of journey – walkers and cyclists who will join the legions of people internationally who are taking advantage of the burgeoning rail trail phenomena. Across the world old rail corridors, with their well constructed, low gradient formations, are being transformed into recreational and heritage trails. In the United States alone over 20 000kms of rail corridor has been converted into rail trails with over a million users a year. The New Zealand government committed $50m in 2009 to the development of 18 rail trails across the country over a period of three years.
Planning for this exciting project is nearing completion. With the assistance of Lotterywest, the two local government authorities and the National Trust, a range of key documents have been produced – an Aboriginal cultural values survey, an environmental survey, a trails
plan, a business plan and an interpretation plan. These documents not only point the way for further development and construction of the trail, they provide the steering committee with a clear, well articulated and costed blue print to approach funding bodies.
The construction of the trail will provide a unique recreational facility for locals and visitors while conserving significant heritage values. There will also be a range of eco tourism opportunities arising from the trail and important social benefits including physical and mentalhealth, fostering a sense of place and contributing to future lifestyle options.
Interpretation Manager, National Trust
Any maps of the possible route??
Map of proposed route for you!
Will horses be able to use this trail? It would be great to have a trail to ride in that area.
We have had a bit of consultation with horse folk in the area who are keen for more places to ride. We have identified an area in the southern part of the trail that will provide riding opportunities as well as links to popular riding areas. We have also encouraged the horse fraternity to work together to develop a bridle trails master plan for the south west. The Lotterywest trails grants are now up (they close in mid March) and this would be the perfect place for funding such a plan.