IT ALL started with a mud map.
Dave Sutton, Inverloch resident and long-time president of the South Gippsland Conservation Society, remembers being invited round to Danny Drummond’s place to discuss a cycling and walking trail that would connect Wonthaggi and Inverloch.
“It was the days before online mapping and Danny, who worked for Parks Victoria, had drawn a mud map showing a route along unused road reserves.”
That was 15 or 20 years ago. And while almost everyone liked the idea, for a long time it looked as though the trail was going nowhere.
But suddenly it’s a real thing, or almost. Last week Bass Coast councillors voted unanimously to proceed with the trail.
Dave Sutton is pleased – and surprised – by the council’s backing for the off-road trail.
“I didn’t expect the shire to pick up the ball as actively as they have.”
“Most of it is farmland and but a fairly good length of the road reserve is remnant vegetation. We’re keen to get a net gain in terms of revegetating the trail."
The trail will link to the South Gippsland Conservation Society’s revegetation project at Carneys Road, an 11ha site which includes a wetland and more than 3000 new plants.
“It’s going to be an important biodiversity corridor, and that’s going to be vital with climate change. We’ve got to allow for migration. The birds can migrate but the mammals can’t unless they have a corridor.”
The council officer’s report notes the trail will link two of the shire’s biggest townships, extend the off-road shared pathway link from Inverloch to Cowes, and link onto a proposed future rail trail link from Woolamai Racecourse to Nyora in South Gippsland.
“This is identified in the Gippsland Tracks and Trails Strategy as an opportunity that could ultimately link through to the Great Southern Rail Trail and become part of what may arguably be considered as one of regional Victoria’s premier cycling and walking experiences.”
The inland trail is also identified as a possible connection – an alternative to a coastal route between Cape Paterson and Inverloch – in the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park Draft Access Infrastructure Plan.
Detailed design of the trail with final costings is almost finished. The council anticipates that all permits and approvals will be in place with the trail to be completed by June 2025.