Australia's longest rail trail opened in 'our backyard'
THOUSANDS of additional visitors will flock to Somerset every year following the opening of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, according to council research.
Somerset mayor Graeme Lehmann said by 2023 the 161km trail would increase direct tourism expenditure in the region by $1.5 million a year.
"This trail will help put Somerset on the map, drive tourism growth and development and encourage new business opportunities which will only further support our rural communities to prosper," Cr Lehmann said.
The trail follows the rail corridor from Wulkurara in Ipswich to Yarraman in the South Burnett, and is now Australia's longest rail trail, spanning taking the title from the Great Victorian Rail Trail, which spans 133km.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the record long trail would promote the region as one of the best rail trail destinations in the country.
"The trail runs right through the Nanango Electorate and it will be an amazing asset for our region," she said.
With 80 per cent of the trail within the Somerset region, Cr Lehmann said locals should get involved ahead of the predicted tourism boom.
"I would encourage anyone thinking about establishing a business in Somerset to have a talk with one of council's friendly planners and see what opportunities are available," he said.
"The opportunities are endless in terms of accommodation development, farm stay experiences, food opportunities and more."
Tourism in the region has already increased, with locals Sue Hudd and Craig Eastment forming their new business, Heartland Heavy Horses.
Mrs Hudd said the business was a combination of local experience and a love of horses.
"We wanted to share our love of horses with others and offer people a unique experience along the trail," she said.
The cycling, horse riding and hiking trail is officially open, providing locals and tourists with the opportunity to experience nature in the district.