Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is backing a $1.4 million dollar plan to boost visitation to Sale Common, recognised as a wetland of international significance.
The Rotary Club of Sale is driving the Sale Wetlands Trail Project, which will upgrade paths, signage and aging infrastructure at the 310 hectare site and link it to the highly popular Lake Guthridge and Lake Guyatt pathways.
Mr Chester this week met with Rotary Club of Sale Vice President Philip Davis and a representative of the John Leslie Foundation board of trustees, Brian Castles, to discuss the project. The John Leslie Foundation has already pledged $200,000 to the initiative.
“This is an exciting project that will help to better showcase one of Sale’s most beautiful natural assets as the western entry point to the Gippsland Lakes,” Mr Chester said.
“My Active Gippsland plan is all about providing more opportunities for locals to enjoy the natural environment and boosting the visitor economy to create more jobs.
“Upgrading the trails and improving the infrastructure will encourage more people to stop in Sale, understand our region’s heritage, and enjoy everything the wetlands have to offer.
“Our region has suffered economically through the drought, bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic. We need to fund legacy projects, like the trail project, to create long-term sustainable jobs and support growth in the visitor economy in the future.”
Mr Davis said a key element of the project was upgrading the Flooding Creek Trail along the eastern edge of the common.
“The path is ill-defined in places and usage is low. We want to create a high-standard, well-maintained trail that will create a nature-based experience and a significant community asset enjoyed by locals and visitors,” Mr Davis said.
“This investment will create a loop, enabling walkers to start and finish in the same place without backtracking. Loops like this are a key feature of the most successful trail networks.”
Sale Common is part of a system of 13 lakes and swamplands that comprises the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site, which is listed among wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
The project includes replacing the deck of the original 30-year-old boardwalk, erecting bird viewing areas and installing new directional and interpretive signage. It is expected to cost around $1.4 million.
Mr Chester said the Sale Wetlands Trail Project would promote further interest in the RAMSAR-listed wetland and, by linking to the Port of Sale arts precinct, would create a unique tourism experience.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to help the Rotary Club of Sale secure the funding it needs to fully realise this vision for the wetlands,” Mr Chester said.