By PAM ZIERK-MA­HONEY

Mansfield Courier - - ALIVE -

BABY it’s cold out­side – but to keep warm and fit at the same time con­sider a win­ter ride down the Great Vic­to­rian Rail Trail (GVRT) – the long­est rail trail in Vic­to­ria.

GVRT was of­fi­cially opened in June 2012 fol­low­ing Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment fund­ing of some $13 mil­lion plus other grants and is jointly man­aged by three shires, Mans­field, Mur­rindindi and Mitchell.

It took more than two years to com­plete the 134km trail with each shire hav­ing in­put into cross­ings, sig­nage and sur­faces.

Main­te­nance of the trail is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of each shire, while pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing of the as­set is man­aged by the GVRT Mar­ket­ing Com­mit­tee com­pris­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from each shire.

The trail con­tin­ues to grow in pop­u­lar­ity and in one sur­vey con­ducted by the Mans­field Shire us­age over a three month pe­riod saw more than 16,000 cy­clists rid­ing the trail.

How­ever, with tight­en­ing bud­gets and less­en­ing gov­ern­ment sup­port, th­ese three shires have lim­ited funds to com­plete all the main­te­nance projects that users would like to see.

That is where the Friends of the Great Vic­to­rian Rail Trail (FGVRT) have come to the fore.

FGVRT was formed in 2017 in re­sponse to the need to fur­ther de­velop the rail trail to bring the as­set up to a higher level and to in­crease vis­i­ta­tion to this fea­ture at­trac­tion.

The group has been formed by ‘like­minded vol­un­teers’ work­ing to pro­vide in­put to the three re­spec­tive shires around the on­go­ing man­age­ment, devel­op­ment and pro­mo­tion of the trail.

It would also hope to see an in­crease in economic ben­e­fit to the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in which the trail passes through such as Bon­nie Doon, Yarck, Yea, Tra­wool, Molesworth, Alexan­dra and Tal­la­rook.

FGVRT has also agreed that work­ing with af­fil­i­ate groups such as Up2Us Land­care and Land­care Vic­to­ria may help in con­tin­u­ing to beau­tify this trail.

FVGRT is plan­ning to raise enough fund­ing to in­stall fur­ther sig­nage along the trail alert­ing rid­ers and walk­ers on suit­able off road park­ing bays where they can use the trail in short sec­tions.

IT’S OPEN: In June 2012 the GVRT was of­fi­cially opened at Molesworth. Cut­ting the sym­bolic rib­bon to mark the open­ing were (from left) Min­is­ter for Re­gional Devel­op­ment Si­mon Crean, Mitchell Shire mayor Sue Marstaelle­r, Mur­rindindi Shire mayor John...

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