Full steam ahead for Glenreagh Mountain Railway
By BELINDA SCOTT
STEAM was hissing from Betty and sweat was trickling off the visitors as Clarence and Coffs Harbour joined together with gold-painted railway dog spikes yesterday.
The Clarence Valley Council deputy mayor Shirley Adams and the Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades took turns with the hammer to drive the last dog spikes into the most recent section of railway track laid by the members of the Glenreagh Mountain Railway (GMR).
This section of trackwork has taken the GMR restoration from Glenreagh to the bridge over Tallawudjah Creek, the boundary between the two local government areas.
Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker, who was representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Service, Warren Truss, said the GMR was a fine example of a community project which had achieved excellent outcomes with the support of Regional Partnerships funding.
GMR has received Commonwealth funding of more than $235,000 towards the first stage of its project to restore 35km of the former Glenreagh to Dorrigo rail line as a working tourist railway.
Restoration of the old timber bridge, estimated to cost about $250,000, is the next hurdle for the group, which is now seeking further grant funding for Stage II of its project.
GMR vice-president Bob Farquhar said restoration of the bridge would open up a further 15km of track to the steam railway group to repair and use, including areas of rainforest which would help to make the train trip a world-class experience.
GMR president Colin Sambrook said yesterday the steam railway had attracted 40,000 visitors in the past 18 months.
Guests travelled aboard Betty and a Melbourne tram from the GMR headquarters at Glenreagh West to the Tallawudjah Creek picnic area, beside the Tallawudjah creek bridge for yesterday's event, which included presentations of special dog spike plaques by Mr Sambrook and MC Artie Seewald, a morning tea and blessing of the track.