GRAMPIANS tourism has received a boost from a $250,000 grant to rebuild tourist assets damaged by bushfires in the Grampians National Park.
The money will be used to rebuild and replace assets such as viewing platforms, walking tracks and signs.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith – who announced the funding on Friday – said the Grampians was a unique tourist destination.
“We’re keen to see the park get back on its feet as soon as possible,” he said.
“Importantly, this initiative will ensure replacement assets are more resilient and can better withstand future natural disasters such as bushfires and floods.”
Grampians National Park ranger in charge David Roberts said Zumsteins and Mackenzie Falls were among the areas hit hardest by the fires.
“This money is for the initial stages of assessment to work out what areas need rebuilding,” he said.
“Zumsteins and Mackenzie Falls are the main areas we are keen to get visitors back into. Those two sites are our number one priority.”
Mr Roberts said it would be some time before rebuilding work started.
“We need to get insurances involved so we are looking at months, rather than weeks,” he said.
“But in the interim we want to open those areas up to visitors as soon as possible. There is no need for delay if there are short-term options to open those areas, then we will look at starting to rebuild after that.”
Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin said rehabilitating the Grampians was a high priority for both council and Grampians Tourism.
“It’s a great announcement and it’s great that it’s come through quickly so the Grampians can get back to providing for tourists,” he said.
Cr Erwin said council was still receiving information about the extent of the damage from affected residents and businesses.
He said it was good to see clean-up and rebuilding work had already started.
“They had volunteers out at Laharum at the weekend mending fences and other things are in place for the clean-up,” he said.
Cr Erwin encouraged Wimmera residents to support the communities affected by the bushfire crisis.
“Council is working hard to get people back to the Grampians,” he said.
“There are a number of events coming up in the region, such as the jazz festival in Halls Gap at the weekend.
“Hopefully we can get some good numbers out there and people support these events.”
Mr Smith said the Grampians was a great asset for Victoria.
“Although works are needed in some areas, I remind Victorians that the
majority of the Grampians National Park was not affected by the recent bushfires, so I urge them to take the opportunity to visit,” he said.
“While we are focused on assisting these communities in their recovery, fire-fighters continue to work on
getting bushfires under control across the state.
“I commend the fire-fighters and incident management team members who are working tirelessly to contain these fires and I thank them for their hard work and dedication.
“They have worked countless hours in tough conditions, not just in the Grampians but also on fires in the Mallee and East Gippsland, in some of the toughest terrain and most isolated areas in the state.”