9 July 2021

Crookwell rail bikes miss out on funding, $12 million secured for other projects

| Hannah Sparks
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Hannah and Peter on rail bike

Hannah Sparks and Peter Simpson leave Crookwell Station on a rail bike. Photo: Brian Castles.

A group of rail enthusiasts trying to finance a novel way to explore the historic Goulburn-to-Crookwell railway line in the NSW Southern Tablelands has missed out on funding, but vowed to keep trying.

The Goulburn Crookwell Heritage Railway group applied for funding from the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLER) – Stage Two to purchase a set of rail bikes that would allow tourists to pedal along a section of the line.

READ ALSO South Coast bikers the big winners in latest bushfire recovery grants

However, the fund was inundated with more than 650 applications seeking $1.6 billion in funding.

The total allocated to the fund was $283 million, which meant only 195 projects were successful.

The BLER Fund is one part of the total $4.5 billion bushfire support package co-funded by the Australian and NSW governments for bushfire response, recovery and preparedness in NSW.

It supports medium and long-term social and economic recovery by funding projects that support job retention and creation in bushfire impacted regions, strengthen community resilience and reduce the impact that future natural disasters have on communities.

The Goulburn Crookwell Heritage Railway group believes the two-seater and four-seater rail bikes it is seeking funding for will not only help to preserve part of the historic railway line, but will also attract tourists into Crookwell where the journey would begin.

Secretary Peter Simpson said he remained optimistic after receiving positive feedback about the group’s application.

“We have a few other irons in the fire and grants keep popping up,” said Mr Simpson.

What’s more, there was some good news for Crookwell. The town falls into the Hume electorate which received $12 million from the BLER Fund.

Successful projects included:

  • $2.4 million to build a new Crookwell Visitor and Community Centre;
  • $2.4 million to upgrade Casburn Park in Wingello;
  • $1 million to upgrade the old Picton Post Office coworking space; and
  • More than $500,000 for a State Emergency Service (SES) Volunteers Centre in Goulburn.

There was also funding for several bushfire related projects including $585,500 to improve the emergency features of Collector Memorial Hall, $999,570 to support bushfire-affected start-ups in the area and $600,000 to improve the villages of Tallong, Bungonia and Tarago.

READ ALSO Mystery doctor’s case discovered hidden inside Goulburn medical centre

All three villages were impacted by the Black Summer bushfires.

The funding will upgrade the memorial hall and install a half basketball court at Tallong; upgrade the community hall and construct a historical walk at Bungonia; and deliver fencing, a barbeque area, shade sails, car park sealing and tree plantings at Tarago.

In addition, close to $3m will go towards assisting councils and communities in Hume prepare for and recover from natural disasters more quickly through wellbeing initiatives.

The Australian Government’s $280m Black Summer Bushfire Grants Program is due to open for applications in mid-July 2021.

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