Could the Queanbeyan to Bombala rail trail become Monaro’s latest world-class attraction?

Elka Wood24 December 2019
A section of the track between Queanbeyan-Bombala

A section of the track between Cooma-Bombala. Photo: Supplied.

Ever driven through the beautiful Monaro and wished you could slow down and enjoy the scenery?

For years, the prospect of cycling or walking the 213 km of un-used railway line from Queanbeyan to Bombala has been entertained, but it was only recently that the Snowy Monaro Regional Council completed a feasibility study into the proposal, bringing it one step closer to reality.

The council has extended the time that the Monaro Rail Trail Draft Feasibility Report will be on public exhibition, so you can have your say until 22 January.

Completing the trail has a $48 million price tag for an unpaved trail made from compacted gravel, with an additional $10-15 million to pave the trail with asphalt.

The feasibility study acknowledges the massive outlay for the community but looks to other established trails such as the Otago Central Rail-Trail in New Zealand as examples of how local tourism can benefit from national and international visitors seeking off-the-track tourism.

Trail towns will be financial beneficiaries

There’s the potential for a huge boost to the tourism market for towns on the trail. Photo: Friends of Monaro Rail Trail Facebook.

It is forecast that the Michelago to Bombala section could inject $19 million into the local economy each year, and the Queanbeyan to Bombala section could be worth a $24 million a year in additional expenditure.

The report says that a large portion of the cost would be in restoring old bridges.

“There are approximately 1900 lineal metres of existing bridges, with several long structures, including the 390-metre long bridge over the Numeralla River. The cost to transform these bridges to make them safe and suitable for cyclists, walkers and other users add considerably to the overall cost of the trail – but these bridges are the quintessential features that make rail-trails as popular as they are.”

A bridge near Bredo

A bridge near Bredo along the trail is one of many. Photo: Friends of Monaro Rail Trail Facebook.

In order to move ahead with the project, the council would have to establish that the trail could not be restored as an active railway line.

“It is evident that should it be proven feasible that a train could be re-established on the corridor between Queanbeyan and Bombala, a trail could not share the same corridor as that train service,” the report says.

However, it’s unlikely that a modern train would follow the same path as the historic line, considering it was set down for a much-slower steam train and constructed with manual labour.

Many other possible roadblocks to the project going ahead have been considered in the study, including emergency access, the threat of fire, loss of privacy for landowners, the cost of fencing the trail, weeds and biosecurity and “interactions between nervous livestock and trail users with dogs”.

It’s anticipated that the proposed trail would be used by recreational cyclists, walkers/hikers, horse riders (where permitted), joggers, trail runners, people in wheelchairs, people in mobility scooters (gophers), parents with prams, school groups, clubs and families.

Overall, the feasibility study concluded that aside from the enormous challenge of funding the project, there are no insurmountable obstacles to the Monaro Rail Trail going ahead.

The consultants point out that the large cycling base in Canberra/Queanbeyan, including new Queanbeyan suburbs of South Jerrabomberra and Tralee, will use the trail as a commuter trail, as well as a long-distance recreation trail.

“When compared with other rail-trails assessed in NSW and Queensland, each individual section of the proposed Monaro Rail Trail rates highly. This is mainly due to the presence of a town (with services) at both ends, wonderful scenery along the way and proximity to potential users/markets,” the report concludes.

For more information, head to Snowy Monaro Regional Council and follow Friends of Monaro Rail Train on Facebook.

What's Your Opinion?

85 Responses to Could the Queanbeyan to Bombala rail trail become Monaro’s latest world-class attraction?

Colin Farley Colin Farley 2:03 pm 11 Jul 21

Just do it with gravel. Study the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail to see the benefits, growth in accommodation, resurrection of old hotels and local small business, more opportunities for adjacent land holders to expand cash flow.

Anthony Sales Anthony Sales 9:29 am 15 Jun 21

I would prefer that the railway line be re-established.

Rob green Rob green 5:19 pm 26 Dec 19

Rail trails are fantastic. Victoria has them everywhere going through small towns which now Have bakeries, hotels, coffee shops … plus they are safe. Children exercising, older people exercising (there quite good at spending money). Surely the state and commonwealth tourism would give you a hand?

Jeanne Gauld Jeanne Gauld 3:40 pm 26 Dec 19

I would love to have a Train Service there again, the closest station to Bega would be at Nimmitabel !!!

Vedenta Vedenta 11:45 pm 25 Dec 19

Canberra to Eden train please

Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 4:23 pm 25 Dec 19

Crikey the Monaro plains have to be one of the most in-hospitable places in NSW. The desolate open plains are either freezing cold or stinking hot and every day it’s windy! Long stretches of nothing doesn’t really sound like much of a bike ride!! I can think of a lot better ways to spend that money.

    Jill Howell Jill Howell 12:04 pm 26 Dec 19

    Annabel Dobson beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I love the Monaro landscape, the gently undulating hills and the late afternoon light on the grasses (when there is grass). It’s looking parched right now, but in good seasons it’s beautiful to me.

    Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 12:42 pm 26 Dec 19

    Yes lovely as you drive through it but as a bike rider I would be worried about the lack of water and the unpredictable changes in weather. I don’t think it’s a safe area to send people out into, especially if they don’t know the number mains like those of us that live in it do!!

Cheryl Spottiswood Cheryl Spottiswood 8:58 am 25 Dec 19

I love this area and have often wondered why they never re established the rail line or put a rail trail in. 🚵‍♀️🚉🚶‍♂️🏃‍♂️

Tracey Tracey 7:50 am 25 Dec 19

Just do it, we have ridden 12 rail trails in Victoria, three in Queensland and as yet none in NSW. We are booked to go to NZ in 2020

Brian Curzon Brian Curzon 11:31 pm 24 Dec 19

A tee to Jindabyne would be good also the original plan was for the Ski Tube to. come down to JINDABYNE

A SMEC Engineer did the design

Nick Ellis Nick Ellis 9:48 pm 24 Dec 19

Great idea. We all should be promoting more fitness and outdoor activities.

Derek Forbes Derek Forbes 8:36 pm 24 Dec 19

This would be a classic long-distance rail trail bringing tourist dollars and employment to the Monaro. It is also economically feasible, unlike deepening the railway line. Build the rail trail!

Tim Coen Tim Coen 5:11 pm 24 Dec 19

It just cost $2.9 Billion to build 13 klms of tram line in Sydney. 213 klms of basically new train track to Bombala with 90 bridges to repair or replace PLUS a whole new line from Eden to Bombala is going to cost a many more BILLIONS and take years and years. A roll-royced rail trail will come in around $50 million, can be dine in stage and start generating benefits for the local community very soon. The rail trail will be a big success.

    Jason Lewington Jason Lewington 7:03 am 27 Dec 19

    So how much would it cost in 50 to 100 years time when Canberra and the Sapphire Coast is far, far bigger.

    As Sydney is growing itself and getting busy Canberra will eventually need a new Port and Eden is the most logical.

    For bike paths, it would be better investing $50m into local paths within towns or widen the shoulder on the highway, so bikes can ride on the shoulder.

    Tim Coen Tim Coen 7:37 am 27 Dec 19

    Jason Lewington you have obviously never used a rail trail.

Colin Aitken Colin Aitken 1:53 pm 24 Dec 19

Build it and they will come!

    John Gardner John Gardner 1:55 pm 24 Dec 19

    agree Col. Look at Victoria and Tassie 👌

    Colin Aitken Colin Aitken 1:57 pm 24 Dec 19

    John Gardner would be amazing, Leongatha to Port Welshpool brings so many tourists to the area. You would get people who want to break it into a 3-4 day trip as well as the people who will complete it as an epic in a day!

    Lyn Lindfield Lyn Lindfield 6:58 pm 24 Dec 19

    Colin Aitken We have been to that trail recently spending our dollars on accommodation, meals etc over a one week period and we are looking forward to going back.

John Gardner John Gardner 12:05 pm 24 Dec 19

Love it. Hope it get’s up.

Sue Bate Sue Bate 10:57 am 24 Dec 19

The Monaro Vista’s are certainly up there with the ‘wonders of the world’

Lisa Ashurst Lisa Ashurst 10:44 am 24 Dec 19

These tracks run through a lot of private properties. Hope the landowners are given a voice...

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 4:52 pm 24 Dec 19

    Lisa landowners could be part of it - providing farm stays, rustic accommodation in shearing quarters or sheds, meals, tours....add to the list

    Lyn Lindfield Lyn Lindfield 6:55 pm 24 Dec 19

    Lisa Ashurst The thing is the old railway corridor is not private property, it is public property which has been used for years as if adjacent landowners own it. I have a public walking trail next to my property in Sydney. Just because it runs next to my house does not give me the right to say it should not be freely accessible by the public.

    Lisa Ashurst Lisa Ashurst 8:15 pm 24 Dec 19

    Lyn Lindfield These track run through properties, not beside them. I used to live in the area and I am very familiar with where the tracks are.

    Lisa Ashurst Lisa Ashurst 8:18 pm 24 Dec 19

    Chris Ellis sure, that's a possibility, they may be able to fit that in around all their other farm work, but the last time this use of the tracks came up, many of the landowners were not thrilled with the idea.

    Peter Sands Peter Sands 10:07 pm 24 Dec 19

    Lyn Lindfield If the state own these old railway corridors then the government needs to keep the fences with adjoining properties stockproof and spray all the invasive weeds and kill the vermin that are on these railway lines..

    Lyn Lindfield Lyn Lindfield 10:28 pm 24 Dec 19

    Lisa Ashurst It doesn't mean the farmers own the corridors. They don't.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 5:19 am 25 Dec 19

    Lisa not so. I have connections in the district. Many property owners are struggling and are keen on the idea of a bike trail

    Lyn Lindfield Lyn Lindfield 6:08 am 25 Dec 19

    Peter Sands Or better yet turn them into rail trails and bring tourists to the districts.

    Lisa Ashurst Lisa Ashurst 10:10 am 26 Dec 19

    Lyn Lindfield True, they don't, but there is no separation (fence or something) it runs through their paddocks

    Lisa Ashurst Lisa Ashurst 10:12 am 26 Dec 19

    Chris Ellis must be a recent change of heart then, because last time this discussion came up they were concerned about people crossing through their properties and possible littering etc.

    Lisa Ashurst Lisa Ashurst 10:13 am 26 Dec 19

    Peter Sands that would work, as presently there are no fences separating the corridors, they are just there, running through the paddocks


Why are we talking about it! LEt’s bring the trains back on those rails!

Matt Watts Matt Watts 10:24 am 24 Dec 19

I would rather it be actual rail along the route for trains to use!

Heather Compton Heather Compton 10:02 am 24 Dec 19

Just get out done.

Anthony James Widdowson Anthony James Widdowson 9:54 am 24 Dec 19

Line bloody well should be restored to service and used for what it was originally, carrying trains!

Not some stupid bicycle trail!

    Elias Hallaj Elias Hallaj 3:02 pm 24 Dec 19

    Anthony James Widdowson a bicycle trail next to a functional rail line would be ideal but unfortunately rebuilding the rail line (& signals, trains, maintenance, etc) would be prohibitively expensive. When you consider how little has been spent on the existing line between Canberra and Sydney and how poorly it compares with similar journies in Europe or Japan, there’s unfortunately very little chance the current NSW Government or federal government will build the necessary bridges, underpasses etc required to get the rail line going again. In the meantime a bike trail would be a good way to preserve the corridor/link for a future government to consider rebuilding the rail line.

    Anthony James Widdowson Anthony James Widdowson 3:39 pm 24 Dec 19

    They will need under / over passes where the line used to cross the highway!

    Plus the Chakoola trestle will have to be rebuilt before even a bike can go over it!

    Elias Hallaj Elias Hallaj 4:26 pm 24 Dec 19

    Anthony James Widdowson I don’t think bicycles need overpasses to cross highways. Usually a simply designed directional crossing with some rest stands and painted markings will do. I’m not familiar with the Chakoola trestle but will find out more!

    Anthony James Widdowson Anthony James Widdowson 4:53 pm 24 Dec 19

    The trestle is why the line was closed in the first place.

    Anthony James Widdowson Anthony James Widdowson 4:58 pm 24 Dec 19

    Seems the spelling is Chakola, not what I had.

    Btw dad and I chased the last train to Cooma, back in 1989.