Walhalla Goldfields Railway Feasibility Study Erica track extension

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:47): (554) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Minister Dimopoulos, in the other place, and it relates to a beautiful hamlet and indeed a wonderful tourist venture called the Walhalla Goldfields Railway. The action I seek from the minister is to assist Walhalla Goldfields Railway in funding a feasibility study for the extension of the line to go all the way to Erica. It is the most beautiful hamlet that you will ever see. It is trapped in time, but what is live and well is this lovely railway. It is run overwhelmingly via volunteers – and indeed I received a letter from Graeme Skinner, who is the secretary of the railway group – retired engineers, conductors and track maintenance volunteers that work in all aspects of it to keep it alive and flourishing. Indeed it has been going now for 30 years. I took my once small children, and now I am hoping to one day take my grandchildren on it – not just yet. It is a wonderful, wonderful place.

What they have been able to access is some ex-Bellarine Peninsula railway track, and this hard track is sufficient to realise their dream to go all the way to the terminus at Erica. However, they need a feasibility study, and this is the step that I am asking the minister to gainfully and pleasantly consider. They have been speaking to Federation University about how they can assist in the completion of this study to then go ahead with the business case and the completion of the track.

I have to say, if you have not been there, it is a wonderful area. It is nestled in time. It certainly has an amazing pub, the Star Hotel. It is near the Erica walkways and track. It is near Mount Baw Baw. It is a lovely stepping stone. What we do know of this area is that it has been smashed in recent years, not only from COVID but from bushfires. The little town was shut down through bushfires. We have seen the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games. This is an opportunity for the minister to put his money literally where his offer is about tourism funding and support this great railway.