Rail trail an exciting recreational pathway for locals and visitors alike

21 March 2024

Original media release issued by Richmond Valley Council

AFTER 10 long years, Richmond Valley Council is thrilled to announce the grand opening of the much-anticipated Casino to Bentley section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on Saturday at 10am at the Old Casino Station, marking the commencement of a new era in outdoor adventure and community connectivity.

Spanning 13.4kms through picturesque landscapes, and boasting an adjoining bridle trail for horse riding, the Casino to Bentley section offers opportunities for individuals and families to explore the region’s natural beauty.

Whether riding, walking, running, cycling or simply strolling, this trail promises an enriching experience for all ages and fitness levels.

The journey includes seven bridges, changing rural landscapes and panoramic views from the rest area above the railway tunnel. The tunnel is home to a rare colony of microbats which will be carefully protected as part of the project.

The rail trail also includes a new car park and refurbishments to the Old Casino Station precinct, as well as parking and facilities at the Bentley end of the section, which will ultimately connect with the Lismore section.

This project was made possible with $7.5 million in funding from the Australian Government’s National Tourism Icons Program, administered by Austrade.

Richmond Valley Council Mayor Robert Mustow said Saturday’s opening marked a major milestone for the Richmond Valley.

Cr Mustow said Council had worked closely with neighbouring councils and the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Supporters Group to deliver this quality facility and he looked forward to the day when people got to enjoy the full 132km length of the Casino-Murwillumbah Trail, which spreads across the Richmond Valley, Lismore, Byron Bay and Tweed local government areas.

He said the Casino to Bentley section would be followed by section three which connected Bentley to Lismore to provide a further 16.3kms of rail trail experience, attracting millions of dollars in annual visitor spend for the Richmond Valley.

“Council is delighted to unveil the Casino to Bentley section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, a testament to the collaborative efforts of our community and stakeholders,” Cr Mustow said.

“This project not only provides a safe and accessible recreational space but also enhances the quality of life for residents and promotes tourism in our region.”

“With the Australian Government’s National Tourism Icon Program investment of $7.5 million, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Casino to Bentley project will become an exceptional visitor and recreational destination for both the Richmond Valley Council and the region,” Austrade’s Sam Palmer, Visitor Economy and Client, Policy and Programs, General Manager, said.

Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said the rail trail would not have been possible without the leadership and support of Richmond Valley councillors over the past decade, and the tireless efforts of Council’s project management team and operational staff, and the many local contractors who contributed to the construction phase.

Mr Macdonald also acknowledged the support of the Australian Government in delivering this milestone, and the dedication of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Supporters Group, which continued to advocate for the ultimate completion of the whole 132km rail trail.

He said Council recently hosted two business workshops to help local entrepreneurs explore new opportunities around the rail trail and was confident new ventures would come online within the next 12 months.

He said Council was also looking at ways to expand the visitor experience by developing other cycling options in the Richmond Valley.

“Council has been investigating projects such as the ambitious $10 million Three Villages Cycleway, which will connect Woodburn, Broadwater and Evans Head,” Mr Macdonald said.

“Combined with the popular mountain bike trails at New Italy, and opportunities for hiking and equestrian activities, which will complement the soon-to-be-opened Casino Showground and Racecourse $15 million upgrade, the Richmond Valley is set to become a major centre for active tourism.”

Richmond Valley Council invites the community to join in the festivities on Saturday between 9am and 3pm at the Old Casino Station. Entertainment on the day will be provided by the Byron Taiko drummers. There will be information stalls by Transport for NSW, Northern Rivers Rail Trail Supporters’ Group, and the Discover Richmond Valley team.

Casino Lions will be cooking a free BBQ on behalf of RVC, and Serenity Shave Ice and Ma & Pa’s Soft Serve, Slushies and Candy will be selling their wares. There will also be a Bike and Blend stand, where you pedal like crazy to make a smoothie, as well Cycling for the Age with trishaws.

A microbat expert will be on hand to give talks on the two endangered species calling the railway tunnel home.

“We encourage everyone to come out and experience the Casino to Bentley section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail firsthand,” Cr Mustow said.

“Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover, or history buff, there’s something for everyone to enjoy along this magnificent pathway.”



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