By Tyler Wright
Dandenong Ranges businesses and organisations are pushing for the establishment of – and funding for – an Olinda Creek Bicycle Nature Trail Feasibility Study.
The proposed trail aims to replace existing muddy trails, celebrate the local and Indigenous history of the area and boost tourism with the prospect of ‘cycling and staying’ in the hills.
It would begin at Lilydale Station and finish at Olinda Creek’s toilet block, connecting existing trails such as the Warburton Rail Trail, Ridge Walk and the Belgrave Gembrook Trail (by road).
Ron Thomas, Kalorama local and representative for the local community, spoke at the Yarra Ranges Council meeting on Tuesday 10 May and said options for bike riders were slim in the area.
“For ordinary people or people on e-bikes, senior citizens, pedestrians, there really isn’t anywhere to go,” Mr Thomas said.
“[This trail] is a tourism gem and manages tourism to also work for the people that live here.”
“It will protect the environment by confining bikes to one trail.”
Supported by The Villages, Dandenong Ranges Tourism, Yarra Ranges Tourism and Olinda Community House, and agreed to by nine cycling bodies including Rail Trails and Bicycle Victoria, Council has been asked to endorse the application for a $125,000 feasibility study grant from the State Government.
After funding is received, a body will be established to manage the project.
“I do concern myself with mountain bikers going off trail and making their own tracks into the parks and I think that this might assist that stopping,” Councillor Richard Higgins said.
The trail would also connect Swansea and York roads.
“It’s connecting our township’s health and wellbeing benefit and community engagement and empowerment,” Councillor Andrew Fullagar said.
Councillor Mark Varmalis, Director of Environment and Infrastructure, was asked to take the matter to the recreation and active living team with a report to return to form.