THE Grampians Peaks Trail, a unique 160-kilometre natural and cultural hiking experience, has opened to the public, providing a much-needed boost to Western Victoria’s regional economy.
Showcasing the stunning Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park, the $33.2 million project was delivered through a $23.2 million investment from the State Government and $10 million from the Federal Government through Horsham Rural City Council.
Energy, Environment and Climate Change minister, Lily D’Ambrosio announced the opening of the iconic hike, which would connect visitors to the precious natural and cultural values of the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park.
“The value of our parks and reserves has become more evident in recent times, which is why we’re boosting investments in projects that protect our natural places and support local communities and regional economies,” she said.
Wannon MP, Dan Tehan said the Grampians Peak Trail would bring an important economic and tourism development opportunity for the local community, the region and Victoria as a key nature-based tourism destination and will be one of the great iconic walks of Australia.
“As a keen bushwalker, I am looking forward to some of the day walks and more challenging 3-day hikes and enjoying not only the panoramic views but also taking on some of the challenging terrain,” he said.
The trail connects the park’s spectacular peaks − from the massive sandstone outcrops around Mount Zero in the north − to Mount Abrupt in the south.
The project aimed to increase the total number of walkers using the Grampians Peaks Trail from 13,800 in 2015 to over 34,000 walkers by 2025 and generate $6.39 million of economic benefits and tourism development opportunities.
Southern Grampians Shire Council mayor, Bruach Colliton said the trail’s launch couldn’t have come at a better time for all Victorians who have been keen to get outdoors.
It would provide “much needed mental health benefits for all Victorians to enjoy the fresh air of the Grampians and the breathtaking landscapes we have on offer,” he said.
“The trail will help to cement the area as a must visit tourism destination not only locally but on a national and international scale. There are significant opportunities for local tourism providers to capitalise on this new investment, to showcase our local products and services whether that be targeting single backpackers or corporate groups, the Grampians has something to offer everyone.”
Tourism, Sport and Major Events minister, Martin Pakula said the trail would provide incredible experiences for tourists from across Australia and the world, boost the regional economy and help the state recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regional Development minister, Mary-Anne Thomas said the trail was a fantastic attraction.
“The Grampians Peak Trail will further drive tourism to the region, generating more jobs in the local community and broader regional Victoria,” she said
The trail could be tackled in day hikes, multi-night sections or an epic 13-day journey.
With 11 campgrounds featuring raised tent pads, communal shelters, and small huts at two campgrounds, hikers would be able to experience the stunning night sky of this ancient landscape.
The trail has also brought visitors closer to the rich Aboriginal culture of the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples, who have lived in these ranges for thousands of years.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation have worked with Parks Victoria to guide the trail alignment and shape the visitor information and stories, which promote awareness and respect for this special cultural landscape.
The State Government has also invested in other areas of the park with a $7.76 upgrade to the popular MacKenzie Falls visitor area, a $5.8 million upgrade to Brambuk − the National Park and Cultural Centre and $5.5 million for more access points to the trail.