A LONG-HELD vision for a walking track from Apollo Bay to Camperdown is a step closer to reality with federal government funding for the missing link between Timboon and Princetown.
Detailed design work will start soon on the 12 Apostles Trail with $50,000 from the government’s strategic tourism investment fund and $50,000 from Corangamite Shire Council.
Physical construction work for the 38-kilometre, three-metre wide path from Timboon via Port Campbell will hopefully follow next financial year.
When completed it will link with the popular Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay to Princetown.
Corangamite Shire Council chief executive Andrew Mason and Shipwreck Coast chief executive Carole Reid said the path would help bring more coastal tourists inland to experience the south-west. “People will be able to travel by train from Melbourne to Camperdown and trek all the way to Apollo Bay,” Mr Mason said.
“Our existing section from Camperdown to Timboon is growing in popularity and this last link will be fantastic.
“We think there’s a lot of potential to make it an iconic trail.”
The federal fund, which includes 13 national landscape projects, also allocated $100,000 for a new heritage centre at Lorne to house memorabilia and history highlighting construction of the famous road, which was first surveyed in August 1918.
Ms Reid said the projects would help lure more tourists into regional towns for overnight stays.
“There are 7.7 million visitors annually to the Great Ocean Road and this funding will assist in getting longer stays and economic yield for the Corangamite region,” she said.
“There have been real aspirations by the local community to extend the walking and cycling trail to the coast.
“It will be for the community and visitors and identify that the beauty of the region is not just on the coast.
“There is currently low financial yield from the Great Ocean Road for tourism operators in the shire.
“I think it’s fantastic that all the good background work has been recognised through this funding and support from the shire.
“Expressions of interest are going out now for the design work.”
The national landscapes project initiative aims to promote nature-based tourism experiences to the global market.