This is a proposal that has been bubbling along for several years now, but with all the fire and flood recovery stuff happening we have told you very little about it. The Draft Master Plan came out in May and we have responded with our comments as a committee. Some of us have also responded as individuals, as have many others in the community who are passionate about protecting our park, and the Advisory Group is also putting in a response. We hope these will be taken seriously and incorporated in the next draft, where there will again be a chance to comment. Of course there are also submissions from others with different agendas.
Before I get to our FOGG response, here is an outline of this ambitious proposal. Apologies if it is too long, but I feel it is important for all members to understand what is being proposed. The full document is available from the Parks Victoria website.
Parks Victoria, in partnership with Grampians Tourism and Tourism Victoria is developing a master plan for the Grampians Peaks Trail, a 144 km long-distance walking trail in the Grampians National Park which will extend from Mt Zero in the north through to the township of Dunkeld in the south. The master plan is being overseen by the Grampians Peaks Trail Task Force, a group comprising representatives of local shires, tourism bodies, walking clubs and state government agencies including Regional Development Victoria, Tourism Victoria and Parks Victoria.
The Grampians Peaks Trail is recognised by the Victorian Government as a priority product development opportunity for the region and is one of four long-distance walks being developed under the Walk Victoria’s Icons brand which will position Victoria and the Grampians as a key nature-based tourism destination.
FROM THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Grampians Peaks Trail will be a world-class, long distance walking experience, showcasing the beauty and majesty of Gariwerd’s natural and cultural landscapes. Visitors undertaking the multi-day walk will experience one of the great icon walks of Australia, representing a “must do” walking experience with an estimated visitation of 23,000 people per year by 2020.
WHERE WILL THE TRAIL GO?
The Grampians Peaks Trail route is a high quality, memorable and spectacular journey that incorporates many of the wonderful features of the Grampians, while protecting the important natural and cultural values of the park. The route connects some of Gariwerd’s most spectacular peaks, from the massive sandstone outcrops in the north, to the rugged and remote Mount William range in the centre, down to the awe inspiring peaks overlooking Dunkeld and the surrounding volcanic plains in the south.
WHO WILL WALK THE TRAIL?
A wide range of experiences, walk options, levels of difficulty and accommodation types will be available along the trail, broadening the appeal of walking and providing opportunities for day walkers, overnight walkers, experienced bush walkers and school groups, as well as encourage participation from people who otherwise may not have considered the walk. Walkers will be both independent (self-guided) and guided (assisted) as part of a range of walking products.
WHERE WILL YOU STAY WHEN WALKING THE TRAIL?
On-walk accommodation is central to the experience of an iconic multi-day walk such as the Grampians Peaks Trail. As such, there will be both low and high yield accommodation along the walk which provide a range of exceptional experiences and broaden the appeal to a more diverse market.
The default accommodation for the entire length of the Grampians Peaks Trail will be hiker camps (provided by Parks Victoria), with camping on designated tent platforms and will be used by both independent and guided walkers. On-walk hiker lodges will be provided by the private sector; these are roofed structures which may include showers, toilet and kitchen facilities and will provide a more comfortable walking
experience. They will cater for a higher yield market and be used by guided walkers. Off-park accommodation will also be provided adjacent to the National Park, yet close to the walk, allowing walkers the opportunity to stay in more comfortable accommodation.
WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS ?
The Grampians Peaks Trail will provide a demonstrable economic benefit to the local community, the region and the State by supporting a wide range of investment opportunities for tourism, complementary services and infrastructure that provide an holistic and integrated walking experience.
HOW WILL THE GRAMPIANS BE PROTECTED?
The Grampians Peaks Trail will celebrate the unique flora, fauna, geology and cultural heritage of Gariwerd in a manner that is sympathetic and respectful of the landscape. The trail will be managed to the highest level of environmental stewardship and sustainability for future generations to enjoy, based on an understanding of natural values, ecological processes, and the specific requirements of significant plants and animals.
HOW WILL THE TRAIL BE MANAGED?
To ensure its enduring quality and economic sustainability, the Grampians Peaks Trail must be constructed, maintained and operated to the highest standards to achieve a full cost recovery for maintenance and operation, and in partnership with the private sector.
The proposed business model assumes that the core walk infrastructure, including the trail and hiker camps, will be publicly funded in a staged manner over a number of years. The private sector will provide the products and services, as well as roofed accommodation, to augment the experience and operation of an iconic multi-day walking experience.
The draft master plan includes maps, suggestions of where hiker camps and possible roofed accommodation could go, both inside and outside the park, a fairly good outline of the different overlays and the constraints they will impose on any developments. Plus lots of pretty pictures.