Gympie Regional Council will hand over control of the heritage Mary Valley Rattler to the Rattler Railway Company.
They’ve come to an agreement, that still needs to be given the official green light by council and the state government.
The deal will see Council’s Rattler assets, other than the locomotive and some land, gifted to the company.
It will also wipe the Rattler’s $900,000 debt, to help the tourism icon thrive following a rough few years of bushfires, Covid, and floods.
Mayor Glen Hartwig says they have been paying $450,000 a year to operate and maintain the Rattler, but $50,000 of that would then come back to Council, to pay off its loan.
“The loan, the repayment structure; it was messy, it wasn’t a good idea to begin with. It lumbered the Rattler with some financial hindrances that could possibly inhibit their ability to remain viable in the future.”
Mayor Hartwig says a lot of money has been invested into the Rattler, and both parties want what’s best for the local icon.
“We both believe that the in-principle agreement that we have is the best way forward.”
“It tidies up a lot of loose areas around leasing and asset responsibility, but also give some surety to rate payers, that ultimately are the major stakeholder and investor.”
Under the agreement, Council would continue to fund the venture $400,000 a year for four more years, as the Rattler rebuilds its tourism markets.
Mary Valley Rattler general manager Linda Barry says the agreement will allow the tourism icon to establish itself as a sustainable business.
“As the Gympie region’s most well-known tourism asset that helps drive visitors to experience the wider Gympie/Mary Valley region, Council’s support for the Rattler is, in fact, an investment in economic development for the region,” Ms Barry says.
“We have been working closely with Council to put together a sustainable plan to ensure the continued operation of the Rattler, because it benefits so many other operators in the Gympie region.
“The heritage of the Mary Valley Rattler is important to the community, and as a volunteer-driven organisation, we believe there is good reason to continue the support for the Rattler as it returns to more normal trading conditions in the next few years.”
Half price tickets for Gympie region residents
To celebrate the “new future” of the Rattler, the Rattler Railway Company is offering Gympie regional residents 50% off tickets (excluding upgrades, food and extras) for the Classic Rattler Run on the Wednesday and Saturday services.
The offer is valid until 30 November 2022 and can be booked on www.maryvalleyrattler.com.au using the promotional code LOCAL2022.