By PAM ZIERK-MAHONEY
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...