Halls Gap facelift ‘long overdue’
Northern Grampians Shire leaders have welcomed a ‘long overdue’ facelift for important tourist village Halls Gap on the back of a $1-million state government boost.
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford announced the funding during a visit to the region last week.
The project is designed to improve liveability for residents and attract more tourists to the town, which is a gateway to the world-renowned Grampians National Park.
Council estimates show the project will stimulate $25-million of economic activity and create 110 jobs in the region in the next 10 years.
Northern Grampians mayor Tony Driscoll said the redevelopment would have a significant positive effect on Halls Gap residents and businesses and a flow-on effect for nearby towns.
He said the project was primarily based on improving the ‘tourist experience’.
“We know that Halls Gap is a favourite for many tourists and our successful events such as the recent Grampians Grape Escape is evidence of that, however, an upgrade will improve the tourist experience resulting in greater tourism investment in the area,” he said.
“We have been working towards expanded tourism in Halls Gap for some time. The Grampians Peaks Trail is well underway and the infrastructure coming out of this funding will enable Halls Gap to capitalise on the economic benefits presented by the world-class trail.”
Cr Driscoll said work would be undertaken to transform Halls Gap into an internationally recognised ‘walking town’ through enhancements including the Stoney Creek boardwalk, new and improved pedestrian crossings and improved cycle connectivity.
“It’s about walkability, accessibility and the visual experience,” he said.
“Mother Nature has done all the work here in terms of providing a beautiful backdrop, we’re just providing a few, more serious touches to enhance the experience.”
Cr Driscoll said the upgrades would also improve economic growth.
“The reality is more people, more businesses, more economic growth. So from that perspective, it’s going to stimulate private investment as well,” he said.
“It is also a win-win for locals, particularly in terms of safety with the amount of tourist traffic we get through here now.”
Ms Pulford said the project was an exciting one.
“We want to retain Halls Gap’s beauty and charm, but we also know that a world-class destination needs a world-class retail and café precinct – and that’s what’s going to happen,” she said. “We are also quite confident this will unlock private sector investment in the order of $10-million.”
In a major win for the municipality, the State Government will also provide $550,000 towards a major revitalisation of Stawell’s central business district.
The project is designed to boost economic activity and business opportunities by increasing accessibility and attracting more visitors to Stawell.
Ms Pulford said the revitalisation project would open opportunities in Stawell for private and commercial investments, and encourage existing businesses to expand, grow and stay in Stawell.
“This project will revitalise the heart of Stawell – boosting economic activity, attracting visitors and boosting local jobs,” she said.
The total project value is $1.35-million, with $800,000 provided through the Federal Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund.
FUTURE PLANNING: Grampians National Park ranger in charge David Roberts, Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford and Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman view the Halls Gap plans.