It’s not the ideal conditions to begin conducting a trail feasibility study: a near white-out where the trail is indiscernible under a blanket of snow…two days into summer. But that’s what faced TRC Tourism consultants as they began the first day of a feasibility study in Central Gippsland this week for the (working title) Baw Baw Epic Trail. The trail is a 90km+ proposed multiday mountain bike route beginning atop Mt Baw Baw, in Victoria, and weaving its way down toward the historic goldmining township of Walhalla, and on into the Latrobe Valley.
The team are meeting with stakeholders, including Baw Baw Resort Management, Parks Victoria and the Gippsland Mountain Biking Club, among others, to begin the process of discovery to ascertain if a trail if feasible, if demand exists for such a trail, what the experience would entail and what the regional and local benefit would be off the back of visitation and usage.
“In our ‘blue sky’ thinking, a trail of the type being discussed would be a marquee ride for the State. The summit-to-valley nature of the trail, the unique environments up high, the pioneering history coming down the flanks, Walhalla’s gold mining heritage, make the proposed trail a stand-out proposition for the Latrobe Valley and for Victoria as a ride destination,” says Chris Ord.
In assessing feasibility, the route needs to be broadly defined according to the landscape parameters, environmental concerns, and trail type metered against expected user type.
“But we are also looking at how the product design can connect existing nodes of interest and villages to deliver best economic and community benefit,” says Chris.
“What’s exciting about this prospect is that from our two day’s exploring in situ (thankfully no snow today), we can see a clear pathway to a pretty stellar experience. We have a mountain-top start with a route that would journey through pristine alpine environments, granite boulder country, and flow down with views west over the valley. It then links into the small townships of Erica and Rawson, where there is already a great network of MTB trails, and huge opportunity for revitalising the townships, being that they would make the ideal overnight stay. A fun descent into Walhalla – already an attraction in its own right – could be celebrated by a drop into the famous Star Hotel. The trail would then continue to drop into the Latrobe Valley, via a small network of existing trails to pop out at Glengarry – which is perfectly set up as a finish with a bike park, an old station platform and buildings and, importantly, a great pub.
“Imagined the way we have after scouting the terrain and trails – it would be a premium multiday adventure mountain biking experience that would sit well as an experience of National Significance showcasing the stunning attractions both environment and heritage of the Baw Baw mountains and the Latrobe Valley.”