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Rail trails are on the move

Happy trails: South Gippsland Shire Council CEO, Tim Tamlin, Cr Mohya Davies, Deputy Premier, Peter Ryan with Nev Pulham, John McKay and Heinz Haselroither from the Great Southern Rail Trail Committee at the funding announcement in Toora on Tuesday, April 3.

DEPUTY Premier Peter Ryan announced $2 million from the Victorian Coalition Government to extend the Great Southern Rail Trail between Foster and Welshpool.
This funding will boost the initial $900,000 provided by the South Gippsland Shire Council for the
project.
Many attendees from the local area were thrilled with the announcement, and the prospects it may bring to their towns.
Speaking at Toora on Tuesday, April 3, Mr Ryan said that the extension project will add more than 18 kilometres to the popular tourist attraction and further showcase the beauty of the region.
“A project like this adds mass to the whole region and makes it more attractive to visitors,” Mr Ryan said.
“It is a thrill from a ministerial point of view. This is why we come to government, to see these initiatives occur.
“It is a benefit, not just to the region, but to the whole state.
“The project will link four communities in the Corner Inlet Tourism Precinct and create a wonderful recreational and tourism experience, for both locals and visitors.
“Given the popularity of the current 49km trail from Leongatha to Foster, the addition of Toora, Agnes and Welshpool to the trail is expected to provide a significant economic boost for the region,” he said.
South Gippsland Shire Council deputy mayor, Cr Mohya Davies said that the announcement was a step in the right direction for the district.
“This extension project should increase the capacity of our small tourism businesses and attract new businesses to the district,” Cr Davies said.
“The Trail has evolved to become a unique linear recreation and conservation corridor down the spine of the Shire, making it highly accessible for local residents as well as domestic and international tourists.
“It was also identified as the key priority project in the 2010 Shire Paths and Trails Strategy.”
“The development of another significant tourism product in the Corner Inlet area will remove the over reliance on Wilsons Promontory as the sole major attractor. With bushfires and flooding closing the park a number of times in recent years, the presence of another major nature based attraction close by could  provide resilience for the local tourism industry should the Park be impacted again.
“It will also lead to extended stays year round, increased visitor yield and will help retain and grow jobs that rely on the tourism industry.”
Nev Pulham, from The Great Southern Rail Trail Committee was pleased with the announcement.
“The government has put in a great effort to promote the trail. I hope that all communities get on board and get their patch of trail on the map,” Mr Pulham said.
“The council staff have been magnificent, and I would like to thank them, Mr Ryan and the Victorian government.”
The rail trail project has been an enormous success in the South Gippsland region, which continues to attract significant tourism to the area.
The extension from Foster to Welshpool will be completed in three stages, over the next three years.
Section one is from Foster to Toora, section two from Toora to Agnes and finally section three from Agnes to Welshpool.
Eventually, the rail trail extension is aimed at reaching all the way to Port Albert, just south of
Yarram.
Wednesday, March 29 also saw the Bass Coast Shire receive funding for the Bass Coast Rail Trail to be extended from Anderson, to Woolamai Recreation Reserve.
Ken Smith MP, Member for Bass announced the Victorian State Government will provide $68,123 towards the project.
“This funding is from the latest round of the Community Facility Funding Program – Minor Facilities category,” Mr Smith said.
“This is a wonderful outcome for Bass Coast residents and visitors alike. The rail trail is well utilised throughout the year and those regular users will all agree, the new extension will add another dimension to the rail trail.
“It currently weaves its way from the old railway station in Wonthaggi through historic mining sites and bushland to Dalyston and the Mouth of the Powlett and along the cliff tops of Kilcunda, with magnificent coastal views from Cape Paterson to Phillip Island.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=3214

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