I represented FOGGS (and the HG Grampians Flora Botanic Garden) at a meeting on October 8. There were five from the consultants’ team and five of us: neighbours, artists and a (local) geologist. (There had been a separate meeting with tourism people).
The consultants have been asked to prepare an Interpretation and Signature Experiences Activation Plan for the Grampians Peaks Trail, with the aim of positioning the Grampians Peaks Trail as a world-class iconic walking experience, showcasing the beauty and majesty of the Grampians National Park’s natural and cultural landscapes. The consultants’ responsibility is to finalise a plan by early December. Others will then be employed to actually do it.
We were told that the Interpretation and Visitor Experience component will:
- Leverage, consolidate and ‘re-package’ existing work including earlier interpretation plans;
- Be reflective of contemporary, world-class interpretation and embrace best practice storytelling and a mix of powerful visual media such as digital, sculpture and furniture, to “engineer profound, destination-specific moments” that assist Parks Victoria in setting a new benchmark for interpreted walks;
- Outline a limited number of clearly differentiated signature experiences, associated customer journeys and storytelling touchpoints and distinctively and compellingly describe the themes, key messages, stories, interpretive strategies and experiences that accompany each of them;
- Ensure reference to the broader context of the Grampians National Park and provide solutions to cleverly connect ‘on GPT’ and ‘off GPT’ sections of track;
- Be relevant to current and future target audiences and consider multi-lingual needs;
- Integrate an authentic Aboriginal experience based on stories already approved by Traditional Owners and setting the foundation for the possible integration of additional stories.
There was much more consultant language about “supporting a world class visitor experience” and what they see their role is. What did our small group contribute? The consultants actually got an interesting conversation going. We talked about what the Grampians means to us, some born here, some long-time residents, one from overseas a couple of years ago. We discussed what we thought would be important elements of the walk experience, the unique geology, the flora, the indigenous and European history, the night sky.
The initial planning is for two experiences.
- “The Edge of the Grampians”, from Dead Bullock creek to Halls Gap, 3 days, 2 nights. Emphasis on flora, fauna, geology, indigenous culture.
- “The Southern Experience” from Griffith Picnic area to Dunkeld, also 3 days, 2 nights. Again flora, fauna, geology, indigenous culture plus some signage about the agrarian experience from Mt Abrupt.
Identify specific partnership opportunities for the ‘Edge of Gariwerd’ and Southern Grampians experiences across park staff, design, tourism, business, Indigenous and other local communities, to maximise consistent experience development and storytelling opportunities.
The aim is that quality interpretation leads to understanding, which leads to appreciation, which leads to wanting to see it protected.
I will be attending another meeting in December.