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04 December 2019
By Dean Lawson
Visiting cyclists taking part in the Great Victorian Bike Ride next year will inject an estimated $1-million dollars into the Wimmera economy.
Expectations are that between 3000 and 4000 cyclists will generate $100,000 in the region for each of the nine days it takes to complete the 532-kilometre route from Rainbow in the southern Mallee to Great Western on the Grampians fringe.
The 2020 ride, coming to the region via a collaborative investment between Horsham and Ararat rural city and Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians and Hindmarsh shire councils, will start on November 28.
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Grampians Tourism has played a key role in securing the annual Bicycle Victoria event, easily one of the biggest cycling tours on the Victorian events calendar.
Chief executive Marc Sleeman said the news was great for the region from both an economic and promotional perspective.
“As well as the investment the tour will bring in event tourism, the promotion of the region as a whole is also significant,” he said.
The route of next year’s Great Victorian Bike Ride, after starting at Rainbow, will head south to Horsham, swing out to loop in Natimuk and Mt Arapiles before heading to the south-east and the Grampians towns of Halls Gap, Dunkeld and Pomonal before finishing at Great Western.
Mr Sleeman said the ride would tap into a variety of landmark attractions and work in well with a Grampians Way project, which involves a ‘step-off, step-on’ circumnavigating trail around Grampians National Park.
“It will take in everything from the Silo Art Trail, Mt Arapiles and the wonders of the Grampians,” he said.
“What’s great about this type of event is that we know that many cyclists involved in the ride are likely to return in 12 months or so on a holiday.”
Mr Sleeman said communities along the ride route would have opportunities to benefit from the event and encouraged clubs and groups to consider ways of welcoming riders with events and fund-raising activities.
“We know that events such as this have a significant economic impact to the community and encourage regional visitation,” he said.
“Participants have a high propensity to revisit the destinations they travel through on their journey, effectively creating in excess of 3000 ambassadors for the destination.”
Bicycle Network officials announced the Wimmera 2020 route during this year’s ride, a 680-kilometre cycle along the south-east coast from Robe to Torquay.
Network events general manager Rebecca Lane said the 2020 ride featured an exceptional mix of scenery.
She said the event would show people a different side to the Grampians, both the riding and off-the-bike experiences showcasing something new.
“There is art on a grand scale, wildlife, wineries and the awe-inspiring Grampians National Park,” she said.
“The Great Vic has visited western Victoria and the Grampians previously, however, this time we are extending to new areas of this spectacular region, with the event giving riders a great taste of the small communities and the local produce the area is famous for.”
The ride will include overnight stops at Rainbow, Brim, Dunkeld and Pomonal. The event will be in Horsham and Halls Gap for two nights.
Hindmarsh mayor Rob Gersch said he was excited to see Rainbow selected as the starting point in 2020.
“Rainbow is a perfect place to start their exploration of the Wimmera-
southern Mallee region,” he said.
“Participants will see a diverse range of agriculture, towns and sites on their journey through to Great Western.”
Organisers and volunteers will arive in Rainbow in the days leading up to the event and Hindmarsh Shire Council will work with community groups and businesses to maximise the economic benefits of attracting such an event to the town.
“This event presents a significant opportunity to build on projects such as the Wimmera River Discovery Trail development, the Silo Art Trail and other regional cycling infrastructure and branding campaigns to help build the Wimmera-southern Mallee as a cycling holiday destination,” Cr Gersch said.
The Wimmera is at the heart of a comprehensive and collaborative plan to establish much of western Victoria as a national cycling magnet.
The region is playing a foundation role in a 10-year cycling master plan that embraces an area stretching from Bacchus Marsh to the South Australian border and deep into the Mallee.
Last year, Wimmera Development Association launched the plan on behalf of 11 councils through Regional Development Victoria.
The concept is geared towards exploiting tourism opportunities generated from an estimated 50,000 visitors to western Victoria through cycling.
Wimmera River Discovery Trail, stretching from Dimboola to Lake Hindmarsh and Ararat Hills Mountain Bike Park are part of the plan.
The entire December 4, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!