A BIKE trail from Harrietville to Bright and a Dinner Plain adventure park with a zip line from the village’s water tower are among projects to be funded to kick-start fire-affected mountain communities.
The member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, yesterday handed out almost $2 million to projects in the upper Ovens Valley and alps in the wake of the Harrietville fires.
They included $1 million to build about 14 kilometres of bike trails between Harrietville and Bright this year; $350,000 for the first stage of an adventure park at Dinner Plain – designed for summer and winter and that, in time, could be valued at more than $1.2 million – and $300,000 to turn the Bright toddler’s pool on the Ovens River into a water wonderland.
Harrietville’s John Atkins said the money would pay for two of three stages of a project that has been in development for at least five years.
“Clearly it builds on the success of the Murray to Mountains rail trail,” he said. “This track will follow the river and be known as the river trail.
“The money will cover an eight-kilometre stretch from Bright to Freeburgh and another six-kilometre section from Harrietville to the trout farm.
“That will leave about six to eight kilometres in the middle and we are fairly confident we will find the money for that.
“Certainly, the response from the government and government departments in giving the region a boost, getting the national parks open before Easter, has been terrific.”
Dinner Plain’s Elaine Burridge said the adventure park could turn the high-country village into a year-round destination.
“We are looking at everything from a zip line off the old water tower to a luge track,” she said.
“There is a genuine commitment from the Alpine Shire to make Dinner Plain a summer and winter destination and with the support of the Victorian government this can become a reality.”
Alpine Council chief executive Ina Nicholls said the funding would ease the pressure on the shire that had lost about $40 million in tourism income since the fire broke out before Australia Day.
“The bike trail — it builds on an attraction we know is already working,” he said.
“We would expect to have the two ends of the trail completed by the end of the year.
“The adventure park at Dinner Plain will ultimately be a $1.2 million project with money still to come from us, the federal government and the ski-lift company.”
Mr Sykes said the funding would provide support to the community for short- and long-term projects, including the Easter tourism boom.
“Of equal importance is the major focus on getting the Great Alpine Road partially re-opened,” he said.
“This happened in time for the Labour Day long weekend and it is important to continue to get the message out that the Alpine Shire is back in business and ready to welcome visitors.”