Activists have been campaigning for the creation of the ‘Emerald Link’ park in East Gippsland, which aims to protect the more-or-less intact ecosystems that run from the coast to the mountains. A long distance walking trail is an integral part of the proposal. The proposed Sea to Summit Forest Trail would create a network of walking tracks linking the coastal town of Bemm River and the existing Wilderness Coast walk to the summit of Mount Ellery, the highest mountain in far East Gippsland.
The Victorian government has recently released market research findings, which is part of the $1.5 million Andrews government’s investment in planning for the walk.
The government says:
‘The proposed Sea to Summit experience in East Gippsland is a step closer, with research into the multi-day walking trail showing strong support from stakeholders and the local community’.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio has released the market research findings for the walk, which will take visitors from Errinundra National Park to Cape Conran Coastal Park.
The market research included a review of the walker market, focus groups, a national survey of walkers and an assessment of various walking concepts.
‘The research shows strong support from stakeholders and the local community to expand nature-based tourism in East Gippsland, and that an experience like Sea to Summit is expected to attract more visitors to the region.
It also revealed a strong interest in shorter multi-day walking options in the area – a concept which will be further explored as part of a feasibility study over the coming months.
Planning for the proposed route is being done in partnership with East Gippsland Shire Council, Destination Gippsland, local community, industry and Traditional Owners’.
Part of the original pitch was based on the fact that the East Gippsland ecosystems are largely intact:
‘Being the only place on mainland Australia with continuous forest from alpine to coastal environments is a major drawcard for people craving wilderness and nature-based experiences’.
ABOVE: Logging in East Gippsland. Source: Friends of Kinglake Forest
However, many environmentalists have pointed out that logging operations are affecting considerable sections of the proposed route of the walk, undermining its attraction as a walking destination.
The government sees the walk as being a part of its ‘iconic walk’ series:
‘Joining the likes of other iconic Victorian walks like the Grampians Peak Trail − Sea to Summit will be an important investment which will support regional tourism, create jobs and drive economic recovery in East Gippsland’.
For more information on Sea to Summit, including a summary of the market research, visit vic.gov.au/sea-summit-nature-experience.
The details of the market research can be found here.