Prior to the election both parties made firm commitments to the Trail, and it seems assured that the new government will honour the promise.
The plan is to start with upgrading and building in the popular area near Halls Gap. The first section of the walk starts by following Stony creek past Venus baths, with a new section linking to the Pinnacle track (so not going into the Wonderland Car Park). From the Pinnacle it heads towards Mt Rosea Carpark, with a hikers camp site about a kilometre before reaching the road and there will be a separate camp for groups on the other side of Siverband falls Rd.. The Advisory Group visited the site and I was most impressed. The setting is charming, in low forest with views across to the opposite range. All 12 sites are for a 2 person tent on an elevated timber pad with a timber boardwalk between the sites. There will be an open ended communal shelter with a bench down each side, also on a timber pad. This means that the footprint of the camp site should be kept to a minimum. There is also a toilet, but no fire place and no fires will be permitted. There is no water tank. Under each tent pad is a lockable locker. There will be quad bike access to the site, I am not sure whether there will be a locked gate. But Park staff will be able to easily clean the toilets, and empty them from time to time. Private contractors could support walkers by arranging to deliver tents and food and water so people walk with only a day pack. The VNPA are concerned about the communal shelters, but I think they are an excellent idea. Without them, I think groups of friends would clear areas of bush to sit communally. Also I think that making it comfortable and attractive to walkers will lessen the possibility of private lodges being erected, with an enormously larger footprint.
The walk will continue over Mt Rosea, past Borough Huts to a new campsite close to Redmans rd. They may trial a quite different campsite layout there and see what the feedback is. Each day’s walk will start by being wide enough for two people side by side, then narrow to single file.
There will be a fee to stay at the hiker camps along the trail and the Advisory Group recommended that it be kept affordable to all users.