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New mountain trail to open

SOUTH Gippsland will have new tourism attraction that will cement the region’s reputation as a walking destination.
The Hoddle Mountain Trail will open at Fish Creek after South Gippsland Shire Council last Thursday voted to open part of Fish Creek Quarry Road for public use as part of the 17km trail.
The decision was not without controversy, with adjoining farmers opposing council’s decision and has even led to one farm closing, they say. Councillor Meg Edwards was absent from the debate given her partner Carl Talbot owns a farm next to the road and opposed the road’s opening.
The trail will be a loop starting and ending on the Great Southern Rail Trail, and take in the existing Mount Nicoll Walking Track.
The section of Fish Creek Quarr Road has been used as part of the Hoddle Mountain Trail and council determined it was still required by the community.
Hoddle Mountain Trail Management Group president Richard Dargaville said, “During the negotiation process we have become more aware of the concerns of adjacent and other farmers. This increased understanding will make us even more determined to address these concerns aiming at better communication between involved parties.”
Mr Talbot said a dairy farm would now close as a result of council’s decision after the operation had reached “breaking point”. Some of the herd is being sold immediately, he said, adding, “The councillors who voted in favour of this have displayed a lack of understanding or appreciation for agriculture. Also of great concern was the council process and the extreme bias from council staff.”.
Mr Talbot said production losses and difficulty associated with holding cows at a gating system while milking, as per council requirements, would be too costly for the farmers leasing his land.
Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt was concerned about the impact of council’s decision on the farmers and the fact the trail had “been railroaded through”, given it was ranked 36 on council’s list of priorities for trails.Councillors Jeremy Rich and Andrew McEwen said the Hoddle trail was well supported and would attract new people to Fish Creek.
Cr Aaron Brown felt the trail was an additional expense to council and would have an adverse impact on farmers. He and Cr Brunt were the only councillors to vote against the road opening.
Council received 27 submissions in support of the proposal and 38 against. A further petition was tabled with approximately 274 signatures requesting the section of road be retained for public use.
Fencing and gating will be required to be installed by the adjoining landowners and council will install signs. Council will commit to works valued at $4000, as well as maintenance, weed spraying and slashing. The track will be maintained as a grade three walking track by the Hoddle Mountain Trail Management Group.

Reason to celebrate: Hoddle Mountain Trail Management Group president Richard Dargaville (front, left) shakes the hand of South Gippsland Shire Councillor Don Hill, flanked by councillors Andrew McEwen (far left) and Jeremy Rich (back, middle, in tie) after South Gippsland Shire Council voted to support the Hoddle Mountain Trail last Thursday. They are with management group secretary Tony Walker (back left with beard) and fellow supporters.

Short URL: https://thestar.com.au/?p=24798

Posted by on May 1 2018. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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