Spectacular first stage of Rail Trail officially opens

1 March 2023

The much-anticipated Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is now officially open, with everyone from walkers to runners, cyclists and people of all abilities set to explore the beautiful region.

The 24 km Tweed section of the Rail Trail was officially opened in a ceremony at the heritage-listed Murwillumbah Railway Station today, with NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, Tweed MP Geoff Provest, Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry and Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc. President Pat Grier AM doing the honours.

The opening comes a day after the region marked the one-year anniversary of the flood, heralding a positive new beginning and recovery for the Tweed Valley and wider Northern Rivers region.

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, who represented Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot at the ceremony, said the Northern Rivers Rail Trail would eventually run from Murwillumbah to Casino through the spectacular scenery of the Tweed Valley, Byron Shire, Lismore and Richmond Valley.

“The Australian Government’s $6.5-million contribution to this first stage is under the Building our Future Fund and is a strong show of faith in our region which has been through so many challenges in recent years – drought, bushfires, the Covid pandemic and the floods a year ago,” Ms Saffin said.

“Like other successful rail trails in Australia and internationally, it will attract more visitors wishing to slow down and soak up an ecotourism experience second to none. They are also likely to explore the many other attractions our region has to offer, boosting local and regional economies.”

NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the project would be an economic boon for the region.

“The project will drive thousands of visitors to the region each year and inject tourism dollars into local economies,” Mr Toole said.

“We have created a world-class scenic trail for an estimated 82,000 visitors each year along a 24 km stretch of stunning hinterland. Whether you take the trail by foot or by bike, this project is taking tourism in the Tweed up a gear.”

Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the Rail Trail would be a game changer for tourism across the region.

“The Tweed stage will help drive growth for the regional NSW visitor economy and increase tourism numbers to the Northern Rivers, which is more important than ever,” Mr Provest said.

“The Tweed Rail Trail is a great example of what the Restart NSW fund is designed to deliver, and I look forward to seeing the benefits it will produce for the region.”

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry said she was confident the Rail Trail would be warmly embraced by the local community, providing an exciting new corridor between villages.

“This is going to be such an incredible new asset for the community and will provide a safe new link between Murwillumbah and the villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes Creek,” Cr Cherry said.

“This is going to be a first-class attraction which not only connects us to our community and neighbours but to the wider world.

“I’m sure this new attraction will be enthusiastically embraced by the community and will give families a great way to connect with each other via a safe corridor which celebrates the incredible scenery of the Tweed Valley.”

Pat Grier AM, President of Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc whose members originally broached the idea, raised money to develop business cases, and presented proposals to all levels of government, was excited to see it finally come to life.

“The Tweed community and Tweed Shire Council must be commended for their vision in getting behind the Rail Trail and being able to see what this recreational asset will bring to the entire Shire community,” Mr Grier said.

“The opening of this section is a huge step forward in the final construction of a 132km Rail Trail that will meander through the whole of the Northern Rivers region – connecting the many communities along its way.”

Construction of the Tweed section of the Rail Trail has been jointly funded by the NSW and Australian Governments and includes $7.8 million from the NSW Government (Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund), $6.5 million from the Australian Government and an additional $600,000 from the NSW Government to cover the cost of operations and maintenance for the first three years.

Starting at the heritage-listed Murwillumbah Railway Station, the 24km Tweed section of the Rail Trail meanders gently southwards through the Tweed Valley, connecting the villages of the Tweed Valley through the rolling hills and spectacular scenery of the region. The path features 26 bridges and 2 tunnels, including the 500m Burringbar Range tunnel which features tiny micro-bats and glow worms.

It is the first completed stage of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, which will eventually stretch 132 km to Casino, traversing through Byron, Lismore and Richmond Valley. Construction has begun on the Casino to Bentley section of the Rail Trail, which is on track to be completed by the end of December.

The opening follows the launch of the new Northern Rivers Rail Trail website, which provides comprehensive information allowing users to plan ahead of their visit.

A community celebration to mark the opening of the Rail Trail is planned for the weekend of Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 March, with a host of fun, family-friendly activities on offer.

Key dates:

  • April 2004 – NSW Government shuts Casino to Murwillumbah rail line
  • 15 May 2004 – Last XPT train left Murwillumbah station
  • June 2021 – Council awards contract for design and construction of Rail Trail to Hazell Bros
  • January 2022 – Construction begins on Tweed section of NRRT
  • February 2022 – Record flood interrupts construction, contractors volunteer to help with clean-up
  • February 2023 – Construction completed
  • 1 March 2023 – Official opening of the Tweed section of the Rail Trail
  • 25, 26 March 2023 – Community celebration of Rail Trail
  • December 2023 – Bentley-Casino stage due to be completed


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