There’s a plan for an extension up into the hills above us here between Sheffield and Railton, and this has the potential to be one of the world’s great mountain bike trails. So we’re very excited, and as I mentioned before, every good or great mountain bike track anywhere in the world needs a couple of key components. It needs a central hub and, here we have a central hub in the form of Railton; and we need obviously a craft brewery. And what we will see as a result of this investment that will be made today, I think we will see the opportunity for this little town and this region to prosper significantly, with visitation and the economic activity that this investment will make. So, to get down to the details, Mitch I’ll hand it over to you. Thank you very much Mitch, we’re very grateful to have you in the electorate of Lyons again.
Not at all, great to be with you Eric and also particularly local government representatives. Eric Hutchinson as local member and local government have been ceaseless advocates to make the most of the natural environment in this part of Tasmania, to seize the tourism opportunities. And mountain biking is a terrific way for people to take in the natural environment, but also to help support tourism and local businesses through the services that they will consume and the demand that they will create. So it’s very exciting today to announce that there will be $450,000 that will go towards improving the opportunity for mountain biking in this area. Two important projects, there’s the ‘Wild Mersey’ Mountain Bike Development, which will be $300,000 that will seek to develop bike paths and connect the towns of Latrobe, Railton, and Sheffield. Also, there’s the Meander Valley Mountain Cycling Strategy which will be $150,000, and that will look for ways to plan and take advantage of tracks that there may be that can be converted into mountain cycling opportunities. So, two great projects. Thanks to the ceaseless advocacy, Eric Hutchinson and also the local government community.
So council, given where Railton leads in, do you want to take the lead, and we’ll and it over to Peter.
DEPUTY MAYOR TIM WILSON [KENTISH COUNCIL]:
Sure, you better give me the phone with the official message.
The official message from the Mayor who has also just sent me a photograph of the Tasmanian bushland as we speak.
The Mayor is away, I’m sure he’s having a lovely bushwalk.
He’s sent me a video.
DEPUTY MAYOR TIM WILSON: [KENTISH COUNCIL]
But I did want to thank you for your commitment to our area, and it’s fair to say that this wouldn’t have gone ahead if there wasn’t a strong resource sharing group between Kentish Council and Latrobe; just wouldn’t have happened. And especially to the fellow over here: Chris Franklin whose worked for both councils, understands the culture of both councils and lives in the area without Chris this project wouldn’t be where it is today. This is a stepping stone to what we want to see. Particularly in regards to Derby in the North East, that was a town that was in decline through mining closing down. Searching for a new identity I guess. We’re hoping that this will be a real economic stimulus for our town of Railton. We hope to see some of the benefits. Our Mayor has sent a message from way down south, so I thought I better read it to you. “I am very pleased to hear the commitment from you and your government to our proposed mountain bike trail plan ‘Wild Mersey’. The money will be multiplied in our community many times over, bringing visitors and new businesses and business opportunities to Sheffield, Latrobe, and especially Railton. We are committed to our own financial contribution to the plan, as well as managing the whole joint Kentish-Latrobe project. Thank you for your efforts to getting this and other funding commitments for Kentish. Regards and stay dry actually I added that bit regards Mayor Don Thwaites.”
Thanks very much Peter, I know you’ve been a passionate advocate for this project too.
MAYOR PETER FRESHNEY [LATROBE COUNCIL]:
I too would like to thank Eric and the Minister for committing to funding for this project. We think it’s crucial and it has great merit. It’s not dependant on the election cycle, the work has been done by Chris and the team at the Kentish and Latrobe Councils. That will stand us in really good stead as we move to the construction phase of the project. We look forward to delivering a world class facility which we believe will be rated in the top 40 in the world, and probably number two in Australia. A lot of background work has been done, including the economics behind it, we’re really certain that many many businesses will benefit from the development of these trails, and we expect new businesses to evolve. That’s why I’m really excited for the opportunities that will come from this project. Again we’d like to reiterate our thanks to the Federal Government, and call on the Labor Party to also support this project. We believe that it’s worthy no matter with who’s in government, and we look forward working with the new government to develop this project and bringing it to fruition. Thank you to everyone involved, thank you to the Minister for coming down. Thank you Eric for your support. We look forward to delivering project and a having world class facility based in Railton, connecting Latrobe and Kentish, and then back into the coastal pathways project, which some of you will be familiar with. Ideally people will be coming over from the mainland, from the boat, off the boat, up into Latrobe and its trees and wonderful, wonderful scenery and great opportunity. Thank you again for coming out. Enjoy the weather.
And finally as I say this, there’s another element to this in the Meander Valley just to the south, and plans there. So I’ll hand over Craig Perkins, the Mayor of Meander Valley.
MAYOR CRAIG PERKINS [MEANDER VALLEY COUNCIL]:
I’ll start of by saying, instead of a cycling strategy, perhaps we should have a rafting strategy. Not many people know that the Meander Council commenced a tourism cycling strategy some years ago. I probably led the idea of mountain biking as a wonderful tourism and economic development opportunity. And as many people supported [inaudible] in the North East as Tim mentioned and it’s proven to be a success. Mountain biking enthusiasts currently ride up in the Great Western Tiers and through there, it’s demonstrated there’s great opportunities for cycling tourism and cycling activities, whether it be local recreation or otherwise. So I welcome Eric’s support for what we know can happen and what we know has value to tourists particularly, but also for local cyclist enthusiasts. Any support of the strategy is very welcome and appreciated.