Businesses have welcomed the return of the Blue Mountains’ famous Zig Zag Railway and an increase in tourism, saying it has put them “back on the map”.
Lithgow companies say they expect more patrons as train enthusiasts flock to the area and boost the local economy after the popular attraction’s 10-year absence.
Zig Zag Brewery owner Kevin Udell, who promoted his beers at the Grand Reopening event in October, said: “I think the Zig Zag Railway and the Zig Zag Brewery have a very strong history; it goes back to the 1880s.
“And so, being here today for the first time with the Zig Zag railway, we’ve had a lot of interest.”
Mr Udell added the increased interest in his brewery would “put [his business] back on the map.”
The Zig Zag Railway was closed for a decade after suffering extensive damage in the 2013 bushfires, and was further damaged by another bushfire six years later.
The heritage line received $6 million in funding towards its restoration, which has been mostly carried out by volunteers.
I think the community, more than anything, is excited.
Its official reopening, featuring steam train rides, exhibitions, and dozens of market stalls where businesses promoted their products, drew about 2,000 people to the area.
Trish Doyle, MP for the Blue Mountains, said: “This iconic heritage railway piece of the network will attract people from Lithgow, from the Blue Mountains, across Greater Sydney and New South Wales.
“I think the community, more than anything, is excited.”
Studies have shown customers are more willing to purchase goods near “authentic” tourist attractions as they perceive local vendors to be trustworthy. Accordingly, the Seven Valleys Tourism Committee erected a notice board at Zig Zag station to promote Lithgow and urged local businesses to “take advantage” of the railway’s popularity.
Several motels have also flagged plans to establish themselves in Lithgow, which would boost overnight stays and business in the region.
Zig Zag chief executive Daniel Zolfel said he plans to hold market stalls yearly at the railway and introduce seasonal events, such as Halloween. Growing demand for tickets, he added, had convinced him the frequency of train services could be increased from fortnightly to weekly in the future.
With these changes, Zolfel said he is confident the Zig Zag Railway will become “a premier tourist attraction” in Australia.
Main image by Zaryab Ahmad.