DESPITE the chilly conditions and slippery ground underfoot, there was a strong community response at the official opening of the Grand Strzelecki Track at the Tarra Bulga Visitor Centre in Balook yesterday.
The wet weather did little to deter the crowd over the weekend, who participated in sections of the overall 110-kilometre track.
Jim Stranger and wife Denise, who cycled solo from Tyers to Balook that morning, were looking forward to joining in the two-hour Mt Tassie Walk.
“It’s really good the track has been opened,” avid bushwalker Mr Stranger said.
“I will probably come back again to walk more or all of the track, in stages.
“I hope they maintain the track well over the years.”
Former Latrobe Valley resident Rob Zwierlein, who ran the 33km track from Billys Creek Walk to the Visitor Centre in three-and-a-half hours, said the section of the track was “beautiful” and praised the groups involved in working together to open the track.
“The run was a bit slippery and I took a few tumbles, but I enjoyed it and will come back to run the whole track, maybe over two days,” the Warragul resident said.
Grand Strzelecki Track Inc president Michael Haynes said at the weekend, about 140 people had registered to participate in the walks led by various committee members.
“We’re all very happy about this project; we’ve had good support,” Mr Haynes said of the $500,000 project, which took three years of planning and three months of continuous work.
Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan, who declared the track officially opened, said he would love to come back and walk part of the trail with his wife.
“The track stands testament of the strength of the human spirit and community, as part of the recovery after the 2009 bushfires,” Mr Ryan said, hailing the track as an “absolute triumph”.
He said facilities such as this were part of the attraction for visitors and those in the cities planning to relocate to regional Victoria.