A rail trail linking Port Fairy and Warrnambool was officially opened today by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan.
Speaking in Koroit, Mr Ryan said the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail would be a major boost for tourism in the region creating an exciting new tourism experience for the Shipwreck Coast.
"The Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail travels from central Port Fairy to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village and Warrnambool Visitors Centre, adding a new dimension for visitors to the region," Mr Ryan said.
"The trail links in with other walking and cycling trails such as the Great Ocean Walk and complements tourism attractions like the Great Ocean Road and Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum."
Mr Ryan said the 37 kilometre trail was expected to attract up to 65,000 walkers and cyclists a year.
"Already the trail is proving popular with early indications showing that 160 to 170 people per day are using the new route," Mr Ryan said.
"With a packed limestone surface and gentle terrain the trail is considered accessible for a broad range of users including cyclists on hybrid cycles and mountain, touring and children's bikes.
"In town areas the trail is asphalt, allowing use by mobility scooters and the elderly."
Mr Ryan said the $2.2 million project had delivered one of Australia's premier short distance rail trails.
"The trail showcases the rural scenery from Port Fairy, Koroit, Illowa through to Warrnambool which includes dairy farms, an extinct volcano at the Tower Hill State Game Reserve and native animals such as koalas, emus and wallabies," Mr Ryan said.us and wallabies.
"The route then passes close to the Merri River wetlands and Kelly's Swamp before ending in Warrnambool."
The Victorian Government contributed $850,000 towards the rail trail project with funding also provided by the Commonwealth Government, Moyne Shire and Warrnambool City Council.