A landmark 144 kilometre walking trail – which authorities hope will be a tourism magnet in the same manner as Tasmania's famed Overland Track – will be built in the Grampians in north west Victoria.
The Grampians Peaks Trail will link the popular national park's rugged sandstone outcrops, waterfalls, low-lying wetlands, moist ferny gullies and jagged peaks. With camp sites every 10-12 kilometres, the trail could take 13 days to walk. The trail, which will run the full length north-south of the Grampians National Park, recently received a major fillip when $29 million of new funding was announced for the project, including $19 million from the state and $10 million from the federal governments.
It is expected to generate more than 80,000 visitor nights and an economic benefit of $6.4 million a year by 2025, according to the trail master plan.
"The key thing for this walk is that it's opening up a whole range of new experiences, through the creation of a lineal walk, from Mount Zero all the way through to Dunkeld," said chief ranger for the Grampians, Dave Roberts.
"It will basically take the best bits of the Grampians and make them really accessible," he said.
About 70 kilometres of the trail is already in place, but a further 80-odd kilometres of new track and connections will be built. The first camp ground is already built and open for bookings.
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.
Asked what walkers would see, Mr Roberts said: "They will see some of the most spectacular landscapes that certainly western Victoria has to offer, if not [all of] Victoria. From the very summits of some of the highest points, to the valley systems and the broader landscape."
Chris Rose, acting chief executive of Parks Victoria, said 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 world-class 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.
Originally published in The Age on 22 June 2015. Read full article.