Halls Gap facelift ‘long over­due’

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.”

Stawell boost

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.

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