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MEDIA RELEASE - Shire endorses key strategies to connect the shire

12 June 2020

Creating a high quality, connected tracks and trails network is on the agenda for the Glenelg Shire following the endorsement of two key documents.

Councillors today endorsed the adoption of the Draft Glenelg Shire Tracks and Trails Strategy and Draft Casterton to Branxholme Rail Trail Feasibility Study at a Special Council Meeting, voting to support community needs and unlock new tourism and business opportunities.

The Tracks and Trails Strategy will guide the development and management of tracks and trails across the Shire for the next 10 years. The strategy aims to connect people through diverse experiences designed to showcase and protect remarkable natural and cultural landscapes, encourage community health and wellbeing and contribute to a vibrant regional economy.

Some of the identified actions include implementing the Three Bays Walk - Portland to Cape Bridgewater, strategic investment in short walks across the Great South West Walk and developing Dartmoor’s rail corridor linking to Fort O’Hare.

Similarly, the Casterton to Branxholme Rail Trail Feasibility Study will also look to connect people and create new recreational experiences for the disused rail line from Casterton to Sandford and further south to Merino and Branxholme.

The rail line, which still includes the historic Wannon River timber bridge, was closed in 1977 with much of the rail line, sleepers and bridge infrastructure removed with much of the opened to grazing.

“Our Shire is fortunate to have some amazing walking tracks and bike trails, but it is clear that connections between trails and key infrastructure such as signage to support the visitor experiences is lacking, or in some cases altogether missing,” said Glenelg Shire Mayor Cr Anita Rank.

“These documents will ensure we can improve the experience and importantly encourage greater community participation and attract more visitors to our region to explore the diverse attractions and remarkable landscapes we have to offer.

“We thank the community for their active participation in developing these documents. The Draft Casterton to Branxholme Rail Trail Feasibility Study has long been a local priority of the Casterton and district community, and the development of a Tracks and Trails Strategy was identified as a key focus from our 2017-2021 Council Plan consultation process.

Cr Rank noted that the reports were timely, with external funding opportunities available.

“Following the endorsement of these documents, Council will now submit an application to Sport and Recreation Victoria to implement the Three Bays Walk - Portland to Cape Bridgewater, a Signature Trail from the Tracks and Trails Strategy,” she explained.

“The Three Bays Walk is an outstanding potential one day or multi-day walking opportunity that will connect to one of the shire’s most recognisable natural assets – Cape Bridgewater. We anticipate this will be attractive to range of locals, visitors and tourism operators, linking in with existing accommodation options.

“We will continue update the community as we move through the funding application process.”

The Glenelg Shire Tracks and Trails Strategy and Casterton to Branxholme Rail Trail Feasibility Study will be available to view via the Your Say Glenelg website.

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