Rail Trail


 

What Are “Rail Trails”  

Rail Trails are multi-user trails sited along disused rail lines, and have been extensively developed throughout Australia.  Due to their relatively benign gradients and the trails’ differentiation from vehicular roads, these trails have become particularly attractive to recreational cyclists.  Many also traverse countryside and small towns, extremely attractive to tourists, many of whom have been introduced to cycling through Australia’s network of Rail Trails.  

Associate Professor Sue Beeton, PhD School of Management La Trobe University, Australia

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The Rail Trail Café at Porepunkah, Victoria – A Rail Trail Café is one of the possible entrepreneurial ideas for the Gatekeepers Cottage at Bluff Point

 

Our Vision  
The vision of the Wonthella Progress Association is to connect the outer suburbs of Geraldton to the Chapman Road dual pathway by way of a “Rail Trail” that we propose would be built along the former rail corridor. The Rail Trail would be a multi-purpose, hard surfaced pathway catering for all age groups and abilities that would meet the need of linking the outer suburbs to the Geraldton city centre. It would also provide a pathway for the vibrancy of the city centre to flow to the outer suburbs creating a more connected and cohesive Geraldton.   2015 Nov - Rail tracks - Bluff Point (3)

Where the former rail corridor meets Chapman Road.  The Bluff Point gate-keepers cottage is to the right.

This would require the land of the former rail corridor to be transferred from the Public Transport Authority to the City of Greater Geraldton.  Since 2007, the WPA has been petitioning various proponents to garner support for this project.  The project stalled in 2012 because the land was not released by the Public Transport Authority. Cutting @ Bluff Point

John Schneider, the originally visionary walking along the former rail corridor cutting between Chapman Road and North West Coastal Highway.

The WPA envisages a diversity of users including walkers, joggers, cyclists, families, gopher riders and people with disabilities using a multi-user pathway with good infrastructure so users have easy access to enter and exit safely at various places along the trail.  The availability of drinking water, shelters and picnic facilities we believe would promote use by all age groups and be attractive to tourists. FacebookvBike Riding Image Fotosearch_k9720465
Quality interpretive signage would give visitors a real feel for the former rail road, for the people who lived and worked along it and for the industries it supported such as the tomato growing industry in Webberton and Wonthella.  It would provide an ideal platform to showcase our wonderful rail history which played a significant role in the growth and development of Geraldton.

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Our vision is in jeopardy of being realised because of a recent decision by the City of Greater Geraldton who recently voted to advise the Public Transport Authority it wishes to take on some of the former rail corridor land between Webberton and Narngulu.  According to a Geraldton Guardian article dated 5 April 2016 the City will now advise the Public Transport Authority it has no interest in the section of corridor between North West Coastal Highway and Place Road.  This section (marked red on the City of Greater Geraldton Map) is crucial to the WPA’s rail trail proposal. 2015 Nov - Rail tracks, Utakarra (1)

The former rail corridor at Utakarra.  The Utakarra gate keepers cottage is to the right.

 Rail Trail Project-Proposal Image Wonthella Progress Association’s Geraldton Rail Trail Report – Click Here to View
CGG Map City of Greater Geraldton Map of the Old Rail Corridor – Click Here to View
WPA Map Wonthella Progress Association Map – Click Here to View
Letter to CGG Letter Sent to the City of Greater Geraldton  CEO, Mayor, Deputy Mayor and each Ward Councillor – Click Here to View
Our Rail Heritage  
The Heritage Council of Western Australia has entered the Geraldton to Walkaway Rail Precinct in the Register of Heritage Places on a permanent basis. Please take a look at the Heritage Councils report which details the history of this historic railway precinct.

Heritage Council of WA Permanent Listing Letter – Click Here to View

Heritage Council of WA Permanent Listing Report – Click Here to View

Webberton Siding Building (now demolished)

The old Webberton siding building (now demolished)

Rail Trail Proposal In Jeopardy  

The Wonthella Progress Association has lobbied hard to be heard by the City of Greater Geraldton who originally accepted the idea at a Council Meeting in 2008. The project stalled in 2012 when the Public Transport Authority would not vest the land to the City of Greater Geraldton. A decision has been made by the City of Greater Geraldton which puts the Wonthella Progress Associations “Rail Trail” proposal in jeopardy.  In an article in the Geraldton Guardian the Mayor was quoted as saying “Mayor Shane Van Styn urged councillors to reject the motion, highlighting the cost of maintaining the entire area. “There are serious costs associated with taking the whole corridor, with the cottages costing millions of dollars to restore,” he said. “This motion goes way beyond what the northern residents want and goes again our long-term financial plan to fund it, therefore I urge you strongly to reject this motion.”

The article goes on to say “City of Greater Geraldton council has voted to advise the Public Transport Authority it wishes to take on some of the former rail-corridor land between Webberton and Narngulu.  The City will now advise the Public Transport Authority it has no interest in the section of corridor between North West Coastal Highway and Place Road. 

Geraldton Guardian, 5 April 2016, City eyes rail-corridor land

City eyes rail-corridor land 

“Having segments removed disrupts the intent of the corridor” Cr Michael Reymond

 

Facebook Page  

The Wonthella Progress Association has set up a “Geraldton Rail Trail” Facebook page… please like this page if you would like to become a supporter of our Rail Trail proposal.

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Photo Gallery

 
Bluff Point Gate Keepers Cottage (2)

Historic Gate Keepers Cottage, Bluff Point

2015 Nov - Gatekeepers Cottage, Bluff Point (4)

Telegraph Pole, Bluff Point

2015 Nov - Two Mile Well - Bluff Point (3)

Historic Two Mile Well, located next to the Gate Keepers Cottage, Bluff Point

2015 Nov - Rail tracks - Bluff Point (2)

Old Railway Line That Runs Past the Gate Keepers Cottage at Bluff Point

Cutting @ Bluff Point (2) Cutting @ Bluff Point (3)

Above & Right – Walking through the Cutting between Chapman Road and North West Coastal Highway.

 Location of Webberton Siding (2)

Location of the old Webberton Siding

Kurrajong Trees - 13 Oct 07

Kurrajong Trees planted c.1932 along Flores Road between Fourth & Fifth Streets, Wonthella

2015 Nov - Rail tracks, Utakarra (1)

Old Railway Tracks that Run Alongside the Gate Keepers Cottage, Utakarra

Rail Line @ Utakarra

Old Railway Tracks that Run Alongside the Gate Keepers Cottage, Utakarra

Utakarra Gate Keepers Cottage CIMG2367

Gate Keepers Cottage, Utakarra

Utakarra Gatekeepers Cottage

Gate Keepers Cottage, Utakarra

Race Course Siding (3)

Historic Race Course Siding

Edward Keane’s contract for the Geraldton-Walkaway line comprised the formation and laying of a single track with signals and sidings, the iron rails being supplied by the government. Along the line, Keane was required to provide: a passenger station and goods shed, with platforms, at the Walkaway terminus; six crossing-keepers’ houses (also referred to as gate houses); two wells, each fitted with wind engine, pump and 4,400 gallon tank; platforms at the Racecourse and Bootenall Road stations; and, a telegraph line for the length of the track. Courtesy of the Heritage Council of WA, Register of Heritage Places Assessment Documentation

Other Historical Information

Report on the Geraldton and Northampton Railway.  For the benefit of our readers, who may not have other opportunities of perusal, we publish in extension, the report of the Government Engineer on the works in progress on the Geraldton and Northampton Railway. This report has been presented to the Legislative Council by the Governor, and containing, as it does, matter of paramount interest and importance to the colony, we gladly avail ourselves of the courtesy of an honourable member who placed the pamphlet at our disposal, and reproduce it in our columns. Mr. J. H. Thomas had an invidious task before him, when proceeding to draw up this report. He must have known that there was a very strong feeling abroad hostile alike to the expenditure on the Geraldton and Northampton Railway, and to the manner in which the works on the line had been carried out prior to his arrival in the colony.  Coming amongst us a stranger, although armed with authority, his duty was a difficult one to discharge, for apparently, his report must in all probability give offence to some one. He went single handed to his inspection, and so far he acted wisely, as at least he was thereby enabled to form an unbiased opinion upon the works before him. How far Mr. Thomas has accomplished the task that was set him, we will leave our readers to form their own opinions. For ourselves we consider that he has made an able and unprejudiced report upon the Geraldton and Northampton Railway, and without committing himself to any decided opinion upon the merits of the line, has placed the matter before the public in such a manner as to leave no doubt as to the expenditure or otherwise of the course which has been adopted in regard to it :  Click Here to View The Report
Marine Terrace, 1979 The first railway lines began to be constructed in Geraldton and the mid west in 1874.  The first government owned railway in Western Australia was constructed between Geraldton and Northampton, initially to carry minerals to the Port.  Photo courtesy of the Geraldton Historical Society. Click Here to Read More
To the left of the (St Francis Xavier) Cathedral entry there is a Foundation Stone laid in 1870. The stone was originally laid at the original St Francis Church. This church had to be demolished to make way for the railway line and the foundation stone was brought to the Cathedral site when building commenced. For those of you that are wondering, the original Saint Francis Xavier Church was located on the site of the current roundabout on the corner of Chapman Road and Phelps St.    First Catholic Church - Phelp St

Photo & Information courtesy of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Precinct, Bulletin, Volume 10

First Catholic Church Building - Phelp St.jpg The first Roman Catholic Church in Geraldton, pictured left was in Phelp Street, located on the site of the current roundabout on the corner of Chapman Road and Phelp Street.  Photo courtesy of the Geraldton Historical Society.