Restoration works have concluded on two heritage-listed rail bridges on the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, with the trail’s Tweed section set to open early 2022. 

Tweed Shire Council Mayor, Chris Cherry, and Member for Tweed, Geoff Provest, visited the historic Dunbible Creek Rail Bridge, which has been fully restored under the guidance of some of Australia’s pre-eminent rail restoration experts. 

Dunbible Creek Rail Bridge and Burringbar Under Bridge No.1 first opened in 1894 and are two of the largest and most historically significant landmarks on the Rail Trail.

Mayor Cherry said restoration of the bridges will give the public access to a nature-filled 24km trail that takes in some of the most beautiful parts of the Tweed Valley.

“You can sense the excitement building in the community as we start the countdown to the rail trail opening early next year and will be a great addition to our vibrant community,” Mayor Cherry said.

“The rail trail will not only be an incredible way to experience nature in the Tweed, it will also preserve some of the important railway heritage, which is exemplified by the most grand and newly-restored heritage-listed bridges at Dunbible and Mooball.”

MrProvest said it was wonderful to see the remarkable historical landmarks restored to their former glory.

“I applaud the project team for their commitment to restoring our history and to delivering a high-quality recreational asset for the community and visitors to enjoy for decades to come,” Mr Provest said.

“The rail trail will be a priceless public asset not only for activities like cycling and walking, but also because it will underpin new business opportunities and support local jobs in the Tweed.”

Prior to the restoration works, trees and vegetation had overgrown and obscured parts of Dunbible Creek Rail Bridge and it was unsafe for public use.

The complex restoration process took around five months, and was completed under the guidance of some of Australia’s leading steel treatment experts, including the team behind the steel preservation treatment of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It involved workers using reverse pressure enclosed scaffolding to protect themselves and the environment, while removing the old lead paint and applying the state-of-the-art steel preservation treatment. 

Dunbible Creek Rail Bridge is a classic example of the American-inspired steel through-truss bridges that became a hallmark of the North Coast Railway Line after it opened in 1894. 

The restoration of the Upper Burringbar Underbridge No.1 near Mooball, a bolted plate girder bridge, also involved complex preservation works.

Construction will now continue to finalise the approaches to both bridges, with finishing works to include new balustrades and decking.

Project Director, Iain Lonsdale, said the Tweed section of the rail trail was on track to open early in 2023.

“The Tweed section of the rail trail between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek is looking fantastic and the contractors are well on the way to completing the earthworks, bridge restorations and installation of the gravel surface,” Mr Lonsdale said.

“In the next and final phase of works, the focus will shift to works in and around the villages of Burringbar, Crabbes Creek and at South Murwillumbah.

“Anticipation is definitely building in the community with a lot of people making plans about how they will enjoy the trail and take advantage of the many opportunities it presents.”

Funding for the Tweed section was provided by the Federal Government, under its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Package Fund, and the New South Wales Government under the Restart NSW fund.

Featured image: Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry and Tweed MP Geoff Provest inspect the newly restored Dunbible Creek Rail Bridge with Project Director Iain Lonsdale. First opened in 1894, the bridge has been restored as part of the new Tweed leg of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Prior to the restoration, trees and vegetation had overgrown the bridge and it was unsafe for public use (see below). Image: Tweed Shire.

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