The Old Beechy Rail Trail will become an iconic tourist destination thanks to a $750,000 upgrade backed strongly by the Brumby Labor Government.
Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan said the upgraded trail would receive $500,000 in Government support and comprise of 45 kilometres of off-road walking and cycling track from Colac, to Beech Forest and to Gellibrand for local residents and tourists.
“The trail aims to become an iconic attraction that will boost tourism and create more jobs for the south-west,” Ms Allan said.
“This will be achieved by linking the trail to nearby tourist attractions and increasing the range of activities for visitors to the region, especially the Great Ocean Road’s hinterland region.”
Ms Allan said the project involved:
• Creating an 11 kilometre off-road section along the trail;
• Creating an off-road link from Colac railway station to the trail head;
• Installing directional and interpretive signage and emergency markers;
• Building boardwalks along the route to reduce environmental impact; and
• Installing associated trail infrastructure such as shelters and bike racks at key points along the route.
Ms Allan said the Brumby Government was supporting the project because an enhanced trail with improved facilities will attract more users and visitors to the region.
“Improving the trail will encourage the growth of existing businesses and development of new associated businesses,” Ms Allan said.
“The project will also reduce all risks associated with the trail’s on-road sections and improve connectivity for local residents to key community facilities and amenities.
“The project will create 10 jobs during the construction phase and has the potential to create a more jobs through the growth of the tourism sector.”
Member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney, said funding for the Old Beechy Rail Trail upgrade would be provided to Colac Otway Shire Council through the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) and its Provincial Pathways Program.
“The $7.6 million, four-year Provincial Pathways Program is developing rail trails and pathways to generate economic, social and recreational benefits,” she said.
“Rail trails and pathways are environment-friendly and a great way to experience nature and the program is helping highlight the natural beauty of regional Victoria while capitalising on the other benefits that go with a popular recreational attraction.”
“To date, the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) has provided $553 million to fund 351 projects worth more than $1.4 billion across provincial Victoria.”