Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rail track rider gathers steam

Rod Bender
AUSTRALIA’S only rail track rider experience has been further enhanced with the official opening of the new Florentine Station near Maydena yesterday. This latest initiative of the Maydena Community Association was funded by Norske Skog and built on the company’s land. The work was undertaken by Workskills clients and through community working bees.

Maydena Community Association member Geoff Williams is one of the driving forces behind the Rail Track Rider, which forms part of Forestry Tasmania's Maydena Adventure Hub experience. “The Rail Track Rider has become increasingly popular and we sold our thousandth ticket recently,” Mr Williams said. Purpose-built carts are pedalled along 2.5km of disused rail track which is now providing an economic impetus for the upper Derwent Valley.

Mr Williams said the new Florentine Station further enhanced the Railtrack Riders experience.“It outlines the whole history of the ANM era. It includes photos of what was actually there back in the day when it was operating full steam," Mr Williams said. “There is also information about the Tasmanian tiger, the last of which was captured only 10km away.”

The new station, which becomes the focal point of the end of the Rail Track Rider route, was officially opened by Rod Bender, general manager of Norske Skog Boyer. Also among the invited guests were Forestry Tasmania managing director Bob Gordon and Derwent Valley Council deputy mayor Craig Farrell.

Mr Williams said the new station, with its verandah, gas barbecue and picnic tables, was an ideal place for visitors to break their journey. “We’ve also built five and 10 minute walking tracks through regrowth forest and included a number of other elements which help showcase the 'thylacine den', which is actually an interestingly shaped hollow log,” he said.

Bookings for rides on the Rail Track Rider are recommended, but not essential. Phone 1300 720 507 or 6288 2288.

Geoff Williams outside the new Florentine Station.

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