MORE USE: The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail could see an increase in traffic as restrictions are eased.
MORE USE: The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail could see an increase in traffic as restrictions are eased.

Somerset businesses to benefit from eased restrictions

AN EASE on coronavirus restrictions could bring hordes of hikers to the Somerset region, according to Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Users Association Inc president Paul Heymans.

From Saturday, Queenslanders will be allowed to go for a recreational drive, visit a national park, picnic and shop for non-essential items within 50 kilometres of home – and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail could be in for a boom in popularity.

“West Brisbane and most of Ipswich will be within range,” Mr Heymans said.

From what he has seen on social media and heard first-hand, Mr Heymans is expecting an increase in foot traffic on the trail from Saturday.

“People are talking about their plans to come out on Saturday – it will be really busy,” he said.

“There will definitely be an increase in traffic during the weekend because a lot of people have been moaning that they can’t get to the rail trail because they’ve been restricted to local recreational areas.”

Mr Heymans said more than 60 per cent of the rail trail’s users were those from Brisbane suburbs who had travelled to the Somerset to visit the trail.

Since the restrictions limiting movement and banning non-essential travel were put in place, the BVRT has been a ghost town – with only a few local families exploring the track.

“The rail trail has always been open but travel restrictions meant people could not travel to use the BVRT from outside the region, so usage was mostly restricted to locals,” Mr Heymans said.

“Partial lifting of restrictions means anyone living within 50 kilometres of the BVRT can now visit.”

Mr Heymans said business in the region had suffered from coronavirus restrictions but the return of tourists to the rail trail would benefit Somerset businesses.

“It tends to be a flow-on effect – if the hospitality businesses are doing well, they purchase from other businesses,” he said.

“Fernvale will probably be the main access point but from there people can cycle to Esk and possibly Toogoolawah but businesses further north will see very little benefit.”