Cyclists want Sale-Maffra bike track

Liam Durkin

LOCAL cyclists will meet next month in the hopes of launching a campaign to have a designated bike track constructed between Sale and Maffra.

The project has generated a groundswell of support, with the eventual aim to connect Sale to the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail.

The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail extends nearly 70 kilometres from Traralgon to Stratford, and is something of a cycling paradise.

Local cyclist Norbert Fuessel has been active in advocating the need for a new bike track.

He said the current cycle from Sale to Maffra along Sale-Maffra Rd presented many dangers, as cyclists ride in close proximity to cars, trucks and agricultural machinery.

Mr Fuessel hoped next month’s meeting would allow a strong group of people to band together to see the project completed.

“I’m keen to get it going and get people who have got skills [in liaising] to join the group and really push for a cycling track,” he said.

“We would need people who cycle the area, someone involved in council, some involved with roads or some skills in surveying and things like that.

“It’s a matter of encouraging the council and whoever’s involved to find out which way is most feasible.”

As it stands currently, cyclists who are not confident riding on road shoulders in Sale are limited to paths around parklands, small routes to Wurruk and the Longford Swing Bridge, and rides around RAA F Base, East Sale.

Cycling has proven a popular hobby of residents in the Wellington Shire, with riders not only reaping the benefits of health and fitness, but reducing their carbon footprint and not having to worry about finding a car space in their day-to-day travels.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester has thrown his support behind the initiative, and foresaw the many benefits a completed track would bring to the region.

“I support the idea of a bike track between Sale and Maffra, and have met with constituents to discuss this proposal,” he said.

“Encouraging Gippslanders to get more active, more often, is a passion of mine.

“Investing in better facilities on public land is good for tourism and the liveability of our local communities.

“Further investment in infrastructure like shared pathways, exercise equipment and bike trails complement Gippsland’s array of natural attractions.

“All Gippsland shires need to work together to connect rail trails and bike tracks to improve the visitor economy and build on existing strengths.”

In order for the track to be built, all parties involved will need to ensure a few items are ticked off, before shovels can hit the ground – including the removal of any Aboriginal artifacts and relocation of native trees.

Wellington Shire Council business development manger Paul Johnson said council had other trail priorities to complete.

“Wellington Shire Council’s current trail priorities include the completion of the Tarra Trail from Alberton to Port Albert, and securing funding to complete the 21km missing link between Alberton and Welshpool in partnership with South Gippsland Shire,” he said.

“Once completed, this would create Australia’s third longest rail trail, and connect Yarram to Leongatha.”

A meeting to discuss the proposed cycling track between Sale and Maffra will take place on Saturday, October 5, from 10am, just outside Wild Honey café in Sale pedestrian mall.