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Donation paves way for Kilmore walking trail

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By Colin MacGillivray

A scenic walking and cycling trail around the perimeter of Kilmore Racecourse and Recreation Reserve could be finished as early as next year after a $100,000 donation from Bendigo Bank.

Reserve trustees have sought to build a walking trail since 2019, with a long-term vision of linking it to other trails as one leg of a track connecting the racecourse reserve with Kilmore Cricket and Recreation Reserve, Kilmore Golf Club and Monument Hill Reserve.

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Trustees chairman Danny Laws said the reserve was there for the entire Kilmore community to use, not just the racing club.

“A lot has been done there for racing, but we thought the community needed somewhere to walk safely,” he said.

“During COVID we noticed there were so many people out walking, but there really isn’t a great place in our area for them to walk safely.

“We’ve got wood sculptures going in because the trees [along Kilmore East Road] had to come down, so we’ve tried to do our best to make that area nice again.

“We thought it would all marry in quite well and it would be a community asset and something that generations of locals would be able to enjoy.”

Mr Laws thanked NorCen Financial Services, which operates Bendigo Bank branches in Wallan, Kilmore and Broadford, for the $100,000 donation to help build the trail.

He also thanked Hanson Kilmore Quarry for agreeing to donate crushed rock for the track’s surface.

A document prepared by the trustees estimated it would cost about $160,000 to engineer the track and carve the trees, with a further $30,000 to protect and light up wood carvings and install signage along the track.

Mr Laws said Kilmore Racing Club had also donated $15,000 to help prepare the reports needed to support the project.

“There is a lot of government legislation and hoops to jump through to try to achieve anything like this. It’s been a very long road for the trustees to get to this point,” he said.

“We’re so grateful for Bendigo Bank. We needed more money to finish the job, and we think we can almost finish it now with the funding from the bank. We were blown away by their generosity.”

Mr Laws said about 80 bird boxes were already in place along the proposed route of the trail to promote native wildlife.

He said he was unsure of how long the trail would take to complete but was hopeful it would be ready for walkers and cyclists by 2023.

“We’ll be full steam ahead now. We had a quote some time ago, but a lot of water has gone under the bridge so we’ll get some more quotes on the earthworks,” he said.

“We’d be hoping it’ll be done within 12 months, because it’s shovel-ready. All we need is someone to go in and do the earthworks and it’ll be done.”

Mr Laws said the trail would add to a range of recreational opportunities in Kilmore’s east.

“Five years ago there was going to be a three or four-lane highway through that area [with the Kilmore bypass],” he said.

“We hope now that putting this trail through there will mean it’s multi-generational and no one will be able to touch it. It’s part of the reserve and it’ll be there, let’s hope, for a very long time.”

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