Trail link to raise millions

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Trail link to raise millions

EXTENDING the Great Southern Rail Trail from Leongatha to Dandenong will be the next step, now the Black Spur section is complete.

That is the view of South Gippsland Shire Council mayor Cr Bob Newton, ahead of the opening of the newest section of the trail, which closes the gap between Koonwarra and Minns Road, this Friday at 3pm at Koonwarra Recreation Reserve.

Eastern Victoria Region MLC Harriet Shing will conduct the opening.

The trail now spans 69 kilometres from Leongatha to Welshpool and is expected to boost tourism to the tune of $5 million annually.

Cr Newton said extending the trail from Leongatha towards Melbourne was the next logical step for the popular tourist attraction.

“We don’t want to see the railway disappear, but we could work in conjunction with it to have dual tracks,” he said.

Cr Newton said the popularity of rail trails worldwide indicated the Great Southern Rail Trail will provide a large economic boost for the shire.

He said visitors would not only experience the trail, but also bed and breakfasts, wineries, cheese factories and other niche industries unique to South Gippsland.

“It will attract a lot of people to the shire and help to showcase the region,” he said.

The $1.85 million project was funded in October 2014, with $1.3 million from the then State Government and the remaining $550,000 from council.

The project, completed two months after the predicted completion date, saw the construction of 2.6 kilometres of trail, the replacement of one bridge and the refurbishment of two bridges.

The project also entailed construction of a picnic area and viewing location at the end of bridge two.

President of the Great Southern Rail Trail committee of management Neville Pulham said he has been fielding many enquiries about the opening date of the Black Spur section.

“It is a breath of fresh air, to think we have eventually got there after 19 years since the rail trail was first proposed,” he said.

“I have been on the committee right from the word go and the fact it is being used more and more is very positive.”

Mr Pulham said the committee worked hard along with the council to make the project a reality.

“Having it completed is a win-win for all. Tourism should kick on now,” he said.

Mr Pulham supported extending the trail to Dandenong, but would like to see it reach Yarram first.

Council’s community strengthening coordinator Ned Dennis said key elements of a new rail trail marketing strategy included new signs, website and promotional material.

“The design, number of signs and locations has been completed and council will advertise for suitable firms to undertake this work in March,” he said.

“Work has commenced with the aim to have the website finalised and launched during June to coincide with completion of all works related to the rail trail extension.”

Mr Dennis said new brochures and promotional materials would focus on the individual sections of the rail trail will be released in June.

“The rail trail committee of management is closely involved in the development of the signage plan and brochure and promotional materials content,” he said.

Ready to ride: South Gippsland Shire Council mayor councillor Bob Newton is excited to see the missing link in the Great Southern Rail Trail completed.

Ready to ride: South Gippsland Shire Council mayor councillor Bob Newton is excited to see the missing link in the Great Southern Rail Trail completed.

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Posted by on Mar 1 2016. Filed under Featured, News. 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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