Gippsland trek to transition

A 100-kilometre community walk which aims to build awareness for a ‘just transition’ in the Latrobe Valley has drawn an “overwhelmingly positive” response, event organisers say.

The Walk with the Valley was organised by the Earth Worker co-operative, which is using the event to build further discussion about future opportunities for the region following a transition away from brown coal-fired electricity production.

The walkers began in Pakenham on Monday and are following a path across Gippsland to Morwell, where the walk finishes on Sunday.

Earth Worker secretary Dan Musil said the group had been meeting with people and groups along the way and had received a good response.

“People recognise the Valley is going to change and so we are really keen see to what can happen and how people can be involved in those things,” Mr Musil said.

“We expect there’ll be more and more Valley people joining us as we get closer to the Valley.”

The group yesterday had 25 walkers, with numbers fluctuating as some participants have chosen to take part for a specific part of the journey.

Along the way the group has so far raised more than $12,000 for transition in the Latrobe Valley and highlighted renewable energy.

On Friday night an event will be held in Yarragon in conjunction with the Baw Baw Sustainability Group, where a co-operatives expert will address the group.

“I’ll be talking about my recent trip to the USA and talking about the transition of coal areas in the USA,” Mr Musil said.

Earth Worker recently established a factory in Morwell, where it plans to build solar hot water systems.

Mr Musil said the group had been in discussions with the State Government about provisioning the systems into social housing.

The group is also keen to establish other social enterprises, including a solar energy trailer which they are showcasing along the walk.

“It’s a trailer with this sodium nickel chloride battery and solar panels on top,” he said.

“(It’s) great for building sites where you need onsite off-grid power.”

He said the co-operative would start to produce the trailers at its factory in partnership with a group called GridEdge.

Mr Musil said while his group did not pretend to have the solution to transition, the purpose of the walk was to showcase different ideas which could all play a role as the region moves away from coal.

The walk will culminate with a community event at 1pm on Sunday at Morwell’s Tarwin Street pop-up park, which will feature food, music, activities and speakers.

At the event high school students, community members and organisations will speak about their visions for the future of the Latrobe Valley.

A bush dance will be held after the event at the Latrobe Valley Hotel on Princes Drive, Morwell from 3pm.

The dance will feature local band the Corr Boys and the Earth Worker Bush Band.

Entry is $10.