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Community consultations begin on the Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan

Community consultations begin on the Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan
March 19, 2019

The Great Southern region of Western Australia is one step closer to becoming a world-class trails destination with community consultation in all 11 local government areas over the next six weeks. 

In November 2018, funding to develop the Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan was secured through Lotterywest in partnership with the City of Albany; the Shires of Broomehill-Tambellup, Cranbrook, Denmark, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Katanning, Kent, Kojonup, Plantagenet, and Woodanilling; the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC); and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). 

The international growth in the popularity of outdoor activities is being reflected by increased demand from locals and visitors for quality trails in the WA Great Southern region. 

The Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan will create a vision to guide that growth and development across the region. 

Spearheaded by the Great Southern Centre for Outdoor Recreation Excellence (GSCORE), the plan will identify a 10-year program of infrastructure delivery for a range of different trail types and user groups, including residents and visitors as well potentially attracting national and international trail events.

The Board of Directors of GSCORE was formally constituted in July 2017. Since that time, they have been working collectively to achieve their vision of positioning the Great Southern as a premier destination for adventure-based tourism that capitalises on exceptional natural landscapes. The region’s unique adventure offerings, which cannot be experienced elsewhere in Western Australia, include: remote wilderness coastal hiking; sea-cliff rock climbing; Southern Ocean sailing and kayaking; elevated downhill mountain-biking; and multi-pitch mountain climbing in alpine conditions. These experiences are expected to attract inter-state and international visitors.

Walking trails in the Great Southern vary in quality, type and length and there are very few looped trails and/or trail networks. The region also lacks equestrian trails, cycling trails, off-road vehicle trails and aquatic trails (snorkelling, diving, kayaking/canoeing).

While Albany has an excellent Trail Hub Strategy, other local governments in the region lack trails and trail plans. The Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan will fill the gap by identifying a regional network of trail towns and trail centres.

“We live in an amazing part of the world which has a natural landscape perfect for trails and unique opportunities found nowhere else,” says Karl Hansom, project coordinator for the Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan. 

“We know that being out in nature and being active has wonderful benefits for mental and physical health, but equally a great trails network ultimately has a huge positive impact on the local economy, tourism, our culture and community.”

Local governments are key players in the plan, contributing financial support, providing a conduit to their communities and will be involved in decision making during the project.

The need for trails master planning is a local government priority in the draft Great Southern Regional Sport and Recreation Plan and in several local level strategic documents. 
Stage 1 Community consultation will identify existing and planned trails, while Stage 2 will develop a list of priority projects. A Trail Building Network will be established to ensure longevity in trails management. 

GSCORE Lotterywest funding and federal funding through Building Better Regions Fund – Community Investment Stream, with matching funds from local government and state government agencies will deliver three fully-scoped concept plans for future trails.

Free community consultation workshops for the Great Southern Regional Trails Master Plan:

•    22nd March: Shire of Plantagenet office (22 Lowood Rd) @ 10am 
•    22nd March: Gnowangerup Community Resource Centre (47 Yougenup Rd) @ 2pm 
•    2nd April: Cranbrook Regional Community Hub (3 Dunn St) @ 9.30am 
•    2nd April: The Kodja Place (143 Albany Hwy Kojonup) @ 5.30pm 
•    3rd April: Katanning Public Library community meeting room (16 Austral Tce) @ 10am 
TBC for late April and early May: Broomehill-Tambellup, Denmark, Nornalup, Jerramungup and Bremer Bay. 

Images courtesy of Tourism WA

Related Articles

22nd May 2017 - Trails blueprint paves way to revitalise regional towns

22nd January 2019 - New walking trail opens in Wellington National Park

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