Grampians Peaks Trail
Privately-built and run 'hiker lodges' in the Grampians National Park would introduce a host of environmental threats including the loss of significant bushland and increased sewage and waste treatment issues.
Up to seven lodges would be built within the park and two outside of the park under a Grampians Peaks Trail Master Plan, which envisages a 144km route from Mt Zero in the north to the township of Dunkeld in the south.
Lease agreements are likely be on offer for commercial development of the lodges, which would include facilities such as ensuite bathrooms. Hiker camps would also be built containing designated tent platforms, a communal shelter and toilets, but they would be managed by Parks Victoria.
To build the lodges within the park a significant amount of vegetation would have to be cleared to provide road access and bushfire safety, and there are as yet no specifications on how the park would manage future growth in infrastructure once the lodges are established.
The draft plan pays scant attention to the considerable benefits of linking the trail with the far more sensible option - accommodation built outside of the park.
Locals lose out
Parks Victoria estimates local tourism will be boosted with an increase in visitor numbers from 13,800 to 34,000 by 2025, but it remains unclear how this will affect the rest of the park and local community.
There will be a fee to walk the trail, and the plan seems to concentrate on the potential for economic benefits from walkers prepared to pay for a higher level of comfort, largely ignoring the potential offered by the backpacker and local market.
In 2006 the Grampians National Park was listed on the Australian Natural Heritage List for its spectacular natural beauty and has long been accessible for anyone passionate about the outdoors.
The VNPA is concerned that catering for a 'higher-yield' market compromises the future of the park and local community, and have made a detailed submission to the plan.
The VNPA does not accept the need for, or the desirability of, commercial development of built facilities, presumably with leases of up to 99 years, inside the national park.
Indeed we strongly oppose that proposition.
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