Trail extends to world stage

10 May 2017 Ovens and Murray Advertiser, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Jamie Kronborg INDIGO mayor Jenny OConnor has welcomed the state governments $12 million investment in the North East Victorian cycle optimisation project confirmed last week by Jaclyn Symes (MLC, North Victoria) as a fantastic outcome. The commitment will fund a $6m extension of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail from Beechworth to Yackandandah and on to Osbornes Flat. Indigo Shire Council will contribute $1m across four years towards the cost of the works. Cr OConnor also hopes that in the wake of last weeks shock decision by Murray Goulburn Cooperative to close its Kiewa milk processing plant next year there will be an opportunity to fast-track the further extension of the trail towards Huon. The Victorian government has clearly listened, she said. There had been extensive and long-term lobbying by Tourism North East, six North East councils and the community to secure this funding. It was a very strong application and were delighted with the outcome. Cr OConnor said new opportunities for cyclists to enjoy the North East were not the only outcomes. There is a huge opportunity for tourism growth from Australian and international cyclists and visitors, she said. But there will be significant job opportunities during construction, and for artists, and for all the tourism developments that are expected to flow from the extension. I know theres concern that cycling overtakes other aspects of our tourism, but Im in no doubt therell be an increase in the number of visitors, and not just from those in lycra. The enhancements will enable many, many people to engage with history, food and wine and the landscape already key drivers for the economy here. Cr OConnor acknowledged the sustained work of former mayor and Yackandandah councillor James Trenery to secure the governments commitment to the trail extension. James in particular worked really hard to get this project up and running, she said I would also like the work of TNE and Indigo chief executive Gerry Smith. Ms Symes said the funding package would define the North East as a world-class cycling tourism destination. It is expected to bring 260,000 visitors to the region every year. TNEs Amber Gardner said it acknowledged the regions world-class cycling tourism assets. Caption Text: RIDING BY: Beechworths Felix (5) and Charlie (7) McLachlan rode up to Indigo mayor Jenny OConnor and Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) during the cycle optimisation plan announcement. PHOTO: Frank Connell Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.