WELLINGTON Shire Council and Latrobe City Council have jointly won the 2012 Parks and Leisure Australia Award of Excellence, Inclusive and Connected Communities, for the Grand Strzelecki Track.
The track, initiated as a bushfire recovery project following the devastating 2009-2010 bushfires, connects the small communities of Balook in Wellington Shire and Jeeralang in Latrobe City.
The track was recognised for its achievements in supporting community recovery and capacity building.
Wellington Shire Council chief executive officer David Morcom said the national award was an achievement for council and the community.
“This award has been won in the true spirit of co-operative partnership,” he said.
“Wellington Shire Council wishes to thank and acknowledge the tireless and incredible work of the many volunteers who put their heart and soul into the Grand Strzelecki Track.
“This award is for them, for their initial enthusiasm for the idea of an iconic walking track through some of Gippsland’s most exquisite scenery; and their incredible ongoing commitment and energy for this project taking it from inception to completion.
“This achievement is a remarkable demonstration of the power of the volunteer.”
Mr Morcom said the efforts of the volunteers were supported by sponsors including Regional Development Victoria and Bendigo Bank who contributed funds and project partners the Gunai-Kurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation.
“We would also like to extend our thanks to and acknowledge the role of the landowners Parks
Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment and HVP Plantations who gave vital permission to allow the Grand Strzelecki Track through their land.”
The Grand Strzelecki Track consists of 110km of track and 70 creek crossings which wind through two national parks connecting four small hamlets.
Through a community volunteer committee, Wellington Shire Council and Latrobe City Council established a plan which sought to create a track through ecologically sensitive native forest and pristine creeks.
It also created a community based organisation to be responsible for the long term management of the track.