A few reminiscences from my time in BBIRT.

After six years with BBIRT I hope you may allow me a few memories.

Pardon me if I use the “I” word too much, but I have never spoken about a couple of things that might be of interest.

At BBIRT, things had always been done by joint effort, never from any single person so I would like to cover some BBIRT activities mixed with my own experience.

Before BBIRT

In about 2012 QR and or TMR came into the Boyne Valley to tell/”consult” the community that the railway line was going to be pulled up.

This caused a fair bit of objection in the community, but not any real actions taken. There was not much that could be done, as the government had made its decision.

It bubbled along, and in about 2014, as secretary of a local group (BVCDC) I wrote to the then minister asking where the process was up to and what we would like to achieve.

We did not know what a Rail Trail was, and were only looking at things from a Boyne Valley point of view, but I wrote:

Our aim is to preserve the 6 tunnels and a wonderful bridge across Glassford Ck at the south of the Valley for generations to come as a walking and horse riding trail such as those found in National Parks

The sleepers in the tunnels appear to be the original hogbacks from 1910, and combined with the tunnels make an interesting attraction

Letter to Minister Emmerson

In 2015 I had an article published in the Gladstone Observer and I believe, the Courier mail in which I wrote

The old railway corridor through the Boyne Valley is a great opportunity to develop a major, first class tourist attraction for the region.

The corridor ranges from the historic rail tunnels in the south, across creeks, open range country, river flats and the river (with bridges across beautiful waterholes), and out into the Awoonga Dam, and could encompass a wide range of activities.

The Gladstone Observer 2015

2017/2018

Somewhere about (from memory) the end of 2017 Desley O’Grady and a group from Monto including Drew Forsythe held meetings as the time the line was going to be pulled up was approaching.

I attended one at about the start of 2018. It was great to see the enthusiasm of community minded people looking to keep the railway open, and who were determined to run tourist trains through the tunnels.

I had previously spoken to the people who run the Gympie Rattler tourist train. They had said to me that they had thirty thousand paying customers per year and were broke, that it would be impossible to run trains through the tunnels and maintain the line.

I went to the second meeting with some trepidation as I had a very different idea to put to the meeting (as outlined above), and thought I did not have much hope to get the meeting leaders onside, and perhaps few others.

On moving that we change direction and move towards developing a rail trail, I was surprised when 75% of the meeting (I forget, but about 70 people were at the meeting) voted for the motion.

Desley O’Grady and Drew Forsythe voted against the motion. I later spent some time on the phone with Drew, as he would have been an asset to BBIRT.

Desley changed her mind later, and has done considerable work for the association as part of the team.

Incorporation

The group quickly moved to incorporate, with support from the Boyne Valley Community Discovery Centre. We didn’t have a penny, and they provided the funds needed to pay for the application to incorporate, which I was able to complete.

The process of writing our objects was detailed, with thoughtful input from those present.

Moving ahead and spinning wheels.

The next few years saw continuous work, with a feasibility study done and trail management and risk management planning etc.

The key thing was to establish a good relationship with the government.

This took a deal of time and effort as previous groups along the trail had adopted a rather aggressive way. It took time to establish that we wanted to work with, and co-operate with government.

As a group. working steadily we achieved that goal

Gears engage, traction achieved.

The work done by a great many people working together saw the first section opened with about $15000, over 1000 man hours of work and wonderful contributions and donations.

Opening the second section at Gayndah was a similar effort, as was the recent event run at Golembil, and particularly the opening of the all abilities section at Barrimoon.

I could go on, but have learnt that too many words often never get read.

BBIRT has become a model for several other communities to open trails in their area.

The Management Committee worked because it met often, and had frank discussions. Good decisions were made because of input from all. If you disagreed with a point of view, you could put it forward and decisions, taken by vote, were then supported.

Good decisions are made following that process. It was also key that monthly meetings are held, with good reporting, and decision making by members.

The association is the members. A committee cannot operate without supportive members, and the members always own the association.

I hope the association moves on and flourishes.

Mark McLachlan

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