Trails group take big step forward

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Working group members Noah Middleton, Kathryn MacNeil and Ken Clements.
Camera IconWorking group members Noah Middleton, Kathryn MacNeil and Ken Clements. Credit: Shannon Smith

Looking out from the Mt Barker Tower towards the Porongurup Ranges, Shire of Plantagenet councillor Ken Clements is excited about what a network of trails could bring to the region.

The Shire has formed a Plantagenet Trails Working Group, led by Cr Clements, on the back of the Great Southern Centre for Outdoor Excellence’s trails master plan.

At the Shire of Plantagenet’s July council meeting, eight community members were appointed to the working group.

Cr Clements said the Shire formed its own trails master plan in 2006, and now with the GSCORE’s involvement, it was able to delve deeper into the possibilities.

“Unfortunately we haven’t had the money nor the initiative to go ahead and do any more since then,” he said.

“Now that this other trails master plan is being put together, we are looking at rehashing some of the stuff we did 10 years ago.

“We have been flouncing around for about 10 years about how we can move ahead without support from anyone, but now we have support we are quite eager to go and develop these areas.”

The group has already formed some exciting ideas and Cr Clements said a mountain bike trail down the Mt Barker Tower hill was one option the group was looking into.

“Through the Porongurups there are already trails there but some of those need joining together to make them a large trail,” he said.

“We have some through the Mondurup Reserve going over towards Sounness Park, where there are a number of trails for both bridle, bike and foot.

“We are also looking at some of the historical equine trails that came up from Denmark in the late 1800s and early 1900s bringing cattle and sheep up.

“In my personal opinion, I think those particular ones could be as much commercial value as the Porongurups and the Mt Barker Hill.”

The working group has been split into three groups to focus on different projects..

Cr Clements said more than 95,000 people had climbed the Granite Skywalk on Castle Rock since it opened, indicating some of the potential other trails could have.

“Of course we could keep feeding into the Denmark, Albany, Bremer Bay and Walpole situation if we can get people to stay two or three more days in the area and encourage tourism,” he said.

“You really have got quite a diverse area here. We have the ocean, we have hills, we have plains, forest areas — we have the whole lot here.”

Kathryn MacNeil, who moved to the town recently, is one of the people on the new working group.

She said she appreciated the beauty of the area and knew others would too.

“It is a great opportunity to share with the rest of the world how amazing our region is,” she said.

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