6 February 2023

Kingsdale, Sooley Dam feature in picturesque new cycling rail trail vision

| John Thistleton
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Looking south-west from Kingsdale Winery, Sooley Dam could make an inspirational backdrop for cycling along a shared pathway that runs in a loop from Goulburn’s north. Photo: Kingsdale Winery.

Snuffed out last year when its partner walked away, Goulburn’s rail trail has flickered back to life. A steering committee has a new route proposal that could take in the untapped beauty of Sooley Dam and Kingsdale Winery on Crookwell Road, north of Goulburn.

Between 30 and 40 kilometres long within the Goulburn Mulwaree Local Government Area, the proposed route is in its infancy. However, the Goulburn Rail Trail Steering Committee has secured almost $148,000 of funding for a feasibility study. The money would also fund a benefit/cost analysis and a business case study for the staged construction of the Goulburn rail trail.

In a separate development, entrepreneurial restaurateur John Gebran has lodged plans with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council for a restaurant and accommodation cabins at Kingsdale Winery, which he bought two years ago. The founder of Sydney’s Gebran Lebanese Cuisine, Mr Gebran’s ultimate plan for Kingsdale is a $3 million to $5 million entertainment and hospitality destination including accommodation, a distillery, function centre and restaurant.

“We are licensed and zoned for all that already,” he said.

Rail trail steering committee chair and Goulburn Mulwaree councillor Bob Kirk said the council had resolved to connect the river pathways to the rail corridor that runs through Goulburn and across the railway bridge at Riversdale. The steel bridge over the Wollondilly River will remain an integral attraction and will be assessed as part of the feasibility study.

Beginning on the shared pathways along the Wollondilly River, the new route would head out to the racecourse, through the rural areas to Norwood siding on the former Goulburn to Crookwell railway line initially. It would then become a roadway-pathway along Norwood Road, Marble Hill Road and on to Crookwell Road at Kingsdale.

READ ALSO The 1940s Goulburn shopfront that had the locals flocking

Kingsdale Winery backs onto one of Goulburn’s water supply impoundments, Sooley Dam, and the steering committee will explore connecting the shared pathway to the picturesque lake, following it along and then heading to Chinaman’s Lane or the Wollondilly River and back into Goulburn.

“So it’s a combination of existing riverside walkways/shared pathways, a section of dedicated rail trail and a section of shared roadways and cycleways,” Cr Kirk said.

“The other option, if we cannot go to Kingsdale around to Sooley, is that we would look at coming in on Crookwell Road. Either way, there are a few options there.

riverside pathway

Proponents of a new shared pathway/rail trail aim to use 18km of existing walkways along the Wollondilly River and connect to a new route over the steel railway bridge. Photo: Leon Oberg.

“To be frank, none of that has been investigated. It is just a concept which has appeal, will benefit the community and capitalise on that 18km of riverside path/shared pathways which we have now, and remembering there is a bit more to go from the back of the jail down to Kenmore, along that Copford Reach section of the river too.”

Cr Kirk said the committee also had the option of investigating taking the route to Forrest siding on the old Goulburn-Crookwell rail corridor, and to Graywood siding at Woodhouselee, almost to the Upper Lachlan Shire boundary.

He said the rail trail and connected pathways project would help the future of any Goulburn-Crookwell rail trail.

“If it can be proven to make the case, it will be a lovely and wonderful further attraction to our area and a nice little cycling link for that developing northern end of town,” he said.

“Other connections could go through Mary’s Mount. It’ll be the bones of a Goulburn network of cycleways and shared pathways, without a doubt.”

The original multimillion-dollar rail trail between Goulburn and Crookwell was abandoned in July last year when the Upper Lachlan Shire withdrew its support for the project.

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said the Regional NSW Business Case and Strategy Development Fund would enable the new steering committee to engage experts to assess the latest proposed route.

“I am excited about the great potential of the rail trail and the possibility for Goulburn to build an inclusive, nature-based, recreational pathway along the disused rail corridor linking with the 18km of existing Wollondilly and Mulwaree Walking Tracks in Goulburn.”

Goulburn Mayor Peter Walker said the business case would boost the council’s capacity to plan the project details and ensure it was investment-ready for future funding opportunities.

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