The long-awaited Grampians Rail Trail is now at the phase where it needs a group of community people to unite and help drive the project into a reality.
The trail was constructed as part of a Stawell Secondary College project, directed by the leadership of resident John Pye.
The project had initial support from the state government and Powercor.
Northern Grampians Shire Cr Murray Emerson said the project had been in the works for several years and was now at the stage where it needed a community of interested people to help manage the trail.
“The next step is having it opened and prepared for use,” he said.
“It has been going on for seven or eight years, or more and now it needs concerned community people like John Pye and the StawellBiz organisation who have taken the project on, to get a group of interested people from our community to drive the trail.”
Cr Emerson said Northern Grampians Shire Council would not manage the trail, but help the community group driving the project to seek funding.
“We will certainly be willing to support the group that takes on the management of the trail and how we would support them would be helping them seek some funding to maintain the trail in the long run,” he said.
Cr Emerson said the trail had enormous potential to provide economic and tourism benefits to the region.
“What it would mean in the long run is a walking and bike trail from Stawell to Heatherlie, which in turn can connect up to the trails out in the Grampians,” he said.
“And also vice versa- it will provide a bike trail for people who come from Halls Gap into Stawell.”
Cr Emerson said the current promoters of the trail had a wealth of knowledge about walking and biking trails.
“They also seem to know a lot about the economic development the trail can bring to the region too which is great,” he said.
John Pye said anybody interested in becoming part of the Friends of Grampians Rail Trail could contact him on 0432 867 387.
“It has been a long and difficult journey since 300 Stawell Secondary School students constructed most of the track, but we are ready to make it a reality.”