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Must help Gympie’s big two: Muster and the Rattler

MVHR president Tony Hallam with Gympie MP David Gibson and Mayor Ron Dyne at the old Gympie train station.
MVHR president Tony Hallam with Gympie MP David Gibson and Mayor Ron Dyne at the old Gympie train station. Tanya Easterby

GYMPIE'S two biggest icons - the Muster and the Mary Valley Rattler - have been bailed out by Gympie Regional Council.

The council has agreed to give the Gympie Muster a $300,000 interest-free loan to help get it through next year's event, and to oversee a new community trust which will take over the running of the Mary Valley Heritage Rail.

Muster chairman Glenn Smith said the Muster would ride out another year with the council's support.

"More than $250,000 is directly invested in local community groups that service and support the (Muster)," Mr Smith said.

"Visitors spend over $4.5 million during the festival; and broader promotion of the 'Gympie' brand is driving year-round tourism to the region.

"As a not-for-profit organisation, more than $14 million in proceeds raised by the event have been donated to local charities and communities over the past 30 years.

"In addition, the Gympie Music Muster has launched the careers of some of Australia's biggest names in country music, including Keith Urban and Troy Cassar Daley. The Muster is an institution.

"The support of the council means we can start to plan for another successful event and keep the Muster legend alive as it enters its fourth decade."

Gympie MP David Gibson, who helped broker the deal with the MVHR, said the Rattler's future had been secured with the agreement by GRC in principle and MVHR membership to establish a community trust as a company limited by guarantee.

The council will be the holding company which appoints the board to run the trust.

The licence to operate (the Rattler) will also be issued to the council which will then sub-lease the licence to the Trust.

The new structure is what was recommended by the business advisory group in February and accepted by the State Government as a condition to securing the $2 million funding in June.

"The next steps will see the new Trust established and working with MVHR and locals to co-ordinate a smooth transition to the new structure which will include a separate trading company responsible for the operation of the Rattler," Mr Gibson said.

Once the new structure is established there will be an announcement of the contractor to undertake repair work on the Mary Valley branch line, he said.

Cr Dyne said the council recognised the important role the Rattler played in the local economy and its importance to the Mary Valley, and was therefore willing to participate in ensuring the Rattler could re-commence operations.

"The service must be sustainable on a stand-alone basis and the council is willing to work with the State Government and MVHR to achieve this," he said. "The volunteers will continue to be the backbone of the service and will be supported by the skills-based board of the trading company."

MVHR president Tony Hallam said the agreement of the council was a vital step toward the re-introduction of heritage rail services into the Mary Valley.

"The MVHR dedicated 2013 to retaining rail, business and volunteer activity, so as to secure a platform for the re-booting of the Valley Rattler," Mr Hallam said.

Topics:  economy events gympie muster gympie regional council mary valley rattler tourism

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