A $12.9 MILLION trail which takes in the iconic Twelve Apostles would generate massive returns for the local economy, according to Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor.
Cr O’Connor met with Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews and deputy Opposition Leader Jacinta Allan on Wednesday to garner support for the project in the upcoming election.
Corangamite Shire has set aside $50,000 combined with state government funding to develop a business case study which will be undertaken later this year.
The trail would extend the existing walking and cycling trail from Timboon to Port Campbell and east along the coast via Loch Ard Gorge, the Twelve Apostles and Gibson Steps into Princetown.
Cr O’Connor said the council maintained the trail was an ideal way to increase visitor numbers to the region.
“We know we get 2.6 million visitors a year to the Twelve Apostles,” he said.
“If we can get 10 per cent of those out of the car to stay in the shire, have a meal, that’s an huge yield.”
Cr O’Connor said Mr Andrews and Ms Allan were supportive of the project and recognised the importance of similar trails to provide boosts to rural economies.
“This would be done to a high standard and it would be a fairly significant trail,” Cr O’Connor said. “They were very interested in it.”
He said federal government money would be needed and he had spoken to federal member for Wannon Dan Tehan.
“We intend to lobby both state and federal,” he said.
It’s estimated the construction from Timboon to Port Campbell would cost $5.1 million and from Port Campbell to Princetown $7.8 million
Cr O’Connor said the trail was also a priority identified by the Great South Coast Group.
The trail would be designed for walkers, hikers and cyclists of all ages and abilities and cater to day trippers and visitors wanting a more active experience.