A thirteen-day 160km hiking trail opens in Victoria’s Grampians National Park National parks

A 160km multi-day hiking trail along Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) will open to the public on Saturday, becoming one of the longest hiking trails in Victoria.

Linking some of the parks ’most spectacular peaks, the Grampians Peaks Trail is a 13-day / 12-night trek starting at Mt Zero and traveling south through the ranges that make up Gariwerd and ending in the town of Dunkeld, 270 km west of Melbourne. .

The $ 33.2 million project was originally scheduled to open last year but has faced construction delays as a result of heat, wet winter and the Covid-19 pandemic. But it takes much longer.

“This project has been in the pipeline for more than 20 years since the first idea, so today is a milestone,” said Tammy Schoo, the interim area general manager for Grampians National Park.

“It was a really complex project both in its planning and its construction.”

The trail has 11 bookable campsites and for most of its length is a grade 4 walk with steep climbs and descents.

The multi-day trail in the Grampians (Geriwald) National Park has been in the pipeline for over 20 years. Photo: Belinda van Zanen

Some sections are slightly flatter and easier and there are also some more difficult grade 5 sections in the central Grampians south of Halls Gap.

The road was built in stages. The first phase, a 60km section from Halls Gap to Bugiga, involved improving or slightly modifying existing tracks and opened in 2015.

Schoo said the work to complete the remaining 100km required construction in remote locations with materials brought in by helicopter.

The trail extends over the ancestral lands of the Djab Wurrung and Jadawadjali people and Parks Victoria has worked with traditional owners to guide the trails parallel and shape the visitor information and stories.

More than 90 species live in the park and 900 species of plants – 49 of which are unique to the national park.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to immerse themselves in the environment and the culture of the area and walk the promenade respectfully,” Schoo said.

The project was jointly funded through $ 23.2m from the Andrews government and $ 10m in federal funding provided through the Horsham Rural City council.

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s environment minister, said 34,000 walkers a year are expected by 2025, generating $ 6.39 million in economic benefits and tourism development opportunities.

“The value of our parks and reserves has become more evident in recent times, which is why we are accelerating investments in projects that protect our natural sites and support local communities and regional economies,” she said.

Early in the development of the trail, conservation groups voiced concerns about what is known as “infrastructure creep,” which refers to the expansion of housing and other recreational infrastructure in untouched areas.

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But Matt Ruchel, the executive director of the Victoria National Park Association, said plans for several cabins and more upscale housing along the way have been revised, with most now concentrated in existing downtown areas.

The trail itself has small huts at two of the camps.

Ruchel said those changes helped minimize the intrusion of the trail into unique areas.

“We need to be careful in the future that new roads don’t compromise the integrity of the places people come to look at,” he said.

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