Bike Muster organiser Peter Scott has called on the Mid-Western Regional Council to lobby more aggressively to establish a “rail trail” between Gulgong and Kandos.
Mr Scott said rail trails – disused railway lines converted into pathways for walkers and cyclists – could have economic benefits for the Mid-Western Region, and especially the smaller towns like Gulgong, Rylstone and Kandos.
Former Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian has told the Mid-Western Regional Council that the State Government would not support a rail trail in the region while there was a possibility that the railway line could be brought back into use to carry agricultural or mining freight.
But Mr Scott said the Mid-Western Regional Council should push the government harder for a decision.
“Council needs to change its attitude,” he said. “Stop taking ‘no’ for an answer and make it happen.”
Mr Scott said the Murray to the Mountains rail trail in Victoria, roughly equal to the distance between Gulgong and Kandos, generated visitor spending equivalent to 21 full-time jobs at Easter alone.
For the eighth year in a row, Bike Muster brought more than 300 riders to enjoy the Mid-Western Region over the four-day long weekend.
The riders, including up to 100 children, could be seen around the district cycling to the markets, wineries and Gulgong, and enjoying treasure hunts and activities at the event’s base at the Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC).
Even Saturday’s rain did not keep the cyclists off their bikes, with around 80 per cent deciding to brave the weather.
Mr Scott, a former Mudgee resident, said some of the Bike Muster participants have attended every event since 2008.
“The nice thing here is that we build a community of our own [at AREC] and people get to know each other,” he said.
Mr Scott said the new footbridge over the Cudgegong River and pathway linking Lawson Park with Glen Willow had been popular with Bike Muster participants, especially children and families.
Despite the number of cyclists on the roads, Mr Scott said drivers had been patient and there had been no incidents.
He said many drivers were aware that Bike Muster riders were out on about and organisers took steps to warn motorists.
Members of the Mudgee Men’s Shed also assisted with safety at the AREC gates, as well as running a fundraising barbecue which will help to rebuild their fire-damaged shed.