VOLUNTEERS are calling on the State Government to open to Brassall the Wanora section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail to increase tourism opportunities between Ipswich and the Somerset.
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is a popular recreational track which runs along the path of a the repurposed Brisbane Valley rail corridor stretching from Wulkuraka to Yarraman.
The 161km trail, managed by the State Government Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, is used by hikers, cyclists and horse riders and runs through the area's regional towns of Fernvale, Lowood, Coominya, Esk and Toogoolawah.
A group of dedicated BVRT volunteers is lobbying the state department to open the Brassall to Wanora section of the trail and to install interpretive signs along the track.
Standing at the picturesque Fernvale Futures Complex, the official beginning of the trail, BVRT volunteer Tanya Smith said the group wanted council to officially open the Brassall to Wanora section of the trail in accordance with Ipswich City Council's opening of the Brassall Bikeway extension in June.
"At the moment only 114km of the trail is officially opened by the State Government department that looks after it," she said.
"Approximately 15km of the trail from Wulkuraka to Wanora remains unopened at this stage however Ipswich City Council is constructing Stage Four of the Brassall Bikeway extension along the rail trail corridor from Wulkuraka to Diamantina Blvd at Brassall.
"We are lobbying the state department to officially open Diamante Blvd to Lloyds Rd in Wanora and that will enable the whole Ipswich section to be officially open."
Ms Smith said the trail offered a range of benefits for local residents and visitors alike.
"The rail trail isn't only important for health and fitness. It promotes heritage and history and connects local councils," she said.
"The trail goes through Ipswich City Council, Somerset Regional Council, South Burnett Regional Council and Toowoomba Regional Council.
"There is another section which is yet to be completed and the Palaszczuk Government has announced $1.8 million in funding to remediate the Toowoolawah to Moore section."
The volunteer said it would be great to see the entire 161km of the rail trail opened by the end of 2017.
"I was born and raised in the Brisbane Valley and remember the old railway line. When I was a girl I used to walk on the old tracks when the line was shut so it's been a project very close to my heart," Ms Smith said.
"It's a huge tourism mecca and we're hoping it will be as big as the Otago Central rail trail in New Zealand.
"It will provide a lot of income to local businesses and is a fantastic resource."
Ms Smith said there were already plenty of groups taking advantage of the popular trail.
"I'm in touch with local Elders. We're looking to host an indigenous cultural experience day on the rail trail at Coominya in the future," she said.
"We also have fun runs, a social dog walking group, horse riders and a lot of photographers taking shots of the beautiful scenery."