You may remember that last year’s Winter newsletter had a long report on what was planned for this long distance walk and the FOGG response to the draft proposal. (We supported the trail in principle but were strongly against any building of lodges. All of this is still available on our webpage ). Since then work has continued, and funding announced for the complete trail. ($29 million including $19 million from the state and $10 million from the federal government). On 29 May the Premier came to Halls Gap to officially open Stage 1.
Stage One: Halls Gap to Borough Huts (3 days/2 nights)
This is a three day/two night loop walk from Halls Gap to Borough Huts covering a total of 19 kilometres for the return trip. The track leaves Halls Gap on the southern side of Stony Creek, past Venus baths towards Wonderland Carpark, which it bypasses, heads to the Pinnacle, across to Sundial carpark and then to Mt Rosea Carpark. From the carpark a realigned track takes walkers to Mt Rosea and then down to Borough huts. Walkers will return to Halls Gap along the eastern shore of Lake Bellfield on the existing track. The new 24 person capacity hiker campsite at Mount Rosea has been completed and is in use. A temporary group camp is on Stony Creek Road close by while plans are worked out for a new one.
I attended the official opening, and listened to all the worthy speeches. I’ve also visited the new campsite on several occasions and walked the first section. And we are planning a FOGG visit there with Dave Roberts on July 24.
The next stage of the project will be extending the trail 13 km from Borough Huts towards Mount William. (To create the whole trail will require the development of approximately 80km of new trail and the upgrade of 64km of existing trails.) A group of locals including some FOGG members and Advisory Group members is assisting Parks in deciding the best routes for the next sections.
The trail is generating quite a bit of media interest eg A recent Age two page spread (22/6/15) describes it as “A landmark 144-kilometre walking trail – which authorities hope will be a tourism magnet in the same manner as Tasmania’s famed Overland Track … With camp sites every 10-12 kilometres, the trail could take 13 days to walk….. While some will be remote, other camp grounds will be close to accommodation outside the park, meaning that walkers could sleep in a bed overnight in a comfortable venue if they prefer that to a sleeping bag. “
Chris Rose, acting chief executive of Parks Victoria, was quoted as saying the Grampians Peaks Trail would become an ‘‘icon walk’’ for Victoria, alongside the Great South West Walk in the south west and the Wilson’s Promontory circuit track.
‘‘The vision is to have a worldclass long-distance walk from the north of the Grampians to the south, or vice versa. And it’s a trail that can be jumped on or jumped off and tackled in one, two, three or four day sections. And for the very fit you could do the whole thing as one experience,’’ he said.
At this stage there have been no expressions of interest for built accommodation along the trail. We hope that remains the case. And the concerns remain about where the money for the upkeep of the trail will come from, and whether that money will come at the expense of other pressing needs of our Park.