Adventure Trail planning moves ahead

THE first stage of the planned Murray River Adventure Trail, between Barmah and Koondrook, is a step closer to realisation with the release of a Victorian Government tender for its business case and planning.

The ambitious multi-stage proposal involves a trail extending over 1000 kilometres between Albury and Mildura.

The tender is for detailed pre-planning work, including the exact siting of the trail, an "interpretive plan" for signage, and a marketing strategy, Murray Regional Tourism chief executive officer, Mark Francis said.

The regional tourism body, which spans both sides of the Murray River, is leading the project.

Mr Francis said the work would enable funding to be sought and secured to create this section of the trail. 

Gannawarra shire economic development manager, Roger Griffiths said the planning would take up to 12 months and would include all relevant regulatory processes and also revisit the business case and investment prospectus.

"The project is exciting and will provide the Murray Region with another selling point to increase visitation and investment, especially for the smaller rural communities," Mr Griffiths said. 

The Murray River Adventure Trail is planned to run 1390 kilometres along the river - 1040 kilometres by land - from the Hume Weir near Albury to Mildura, linking towns and tourism sites and boosting visitor numbers and local jobs.

At Koondrook it will connect with the "nature-based tourism hub" being developed, which includes upmarket tents, a camp kitchen, canoe platform and cycling and canoe trails, and will link to the planned Kerang to Koondrook rail trail.

Mr Francis said the Barmah to Koondrook section had been identified as the first stage of the proposed trail during initial the project's feasibility studies due to its potential to attract visitor numbers and the two RAMSAR-listed wetlands it takes in.

The first stage planning tender was released last Wednesday and will close on Friday, June 7, with $500,000 of funding provided through the Government's Mallee Regional Partnership initiative.

"It's a great project, one we've been leading for several years," Mr Francis said.

"We're excited to hear it hit the ground."

Victorian Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes said the trail would be the first long distance land and water trail in the world and was expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors, including international tourists, to the region every year.