Trail development approval sought

Support local, independent journalism

The SE Voice is the Limestone Coast’s only fully digital publication. Locally owned & operated, we deliver all the latest news & sport direct to your fingertips. We're run by a creative team of local journalists all based in the region. News as we know has changed - we're delivering it first and free. Thank you for your support in keeping local news alive.

Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Trail development approval sought

Mount Gambier City Council will seek development approval to include several new trails within the Crater Lakes area following endorsement of the Crater Lakes Trails Plan.

Councillors endorsed the new plan at last week’s monthly meeting.

Development approval will allow the trails to be formally recognised and signage in the area can be upgraded.

A report and recommendation by council’s Strategic Development and Recreation coordinator Elisa Solly was presented at the meeting.

Open Trails Australia was engaged by council to create the plan which outlines the current and proposed new trails.

The report listed key recommendations, including upgrades and improvements, accessibility, maintenance, governance and management.

Ms Solly said there were statutory obligations to comply with prior to any works within the Crater Lakes Park commencing.

She said this included obtaining development approval, complying with any State Heritage, Native Title and Native Vegetation requirements.

“Further requirements may be identified as the plan is further implemented,” Ms Solly said.

“Legislative requirements under the Planning Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, the Local Government Act 1999 and the Crown Land Management Act 2009 and any other applicable legislation will be investigated and complied with.

“The Crater Lakes peri-urban Park (the Park) is a much-loved natural environment within the city providing a recreational, cultural and social destination for our community.

“A key recommendation in council’s Sport, Recreation and Open Space Strategy (SROSS) identified that a master plan for the Crater Lakes should be undertaken in consultation with all current and future key stakeholders as a high priority.

“There has been a significant amount of engagement and consultation with key stakeholders and user groups as well as the general community.”

In 2022, as part of the Crater Lakes Activation Plan project, a broad trails audit was undertaken where it was identified the trails are a key attraction for walking, running and bike riding.

Ms Solly reported 78% of survey respondents identified they visit the park for these reasons.

Community and visitors were invited to contribute to the development of the plan through an online survey and community engagement sessions in July and August.

Internal council sessions were also held to inform all areas of council of the project.

“It also highlighted there is a clear opportunity to redefine the network of trails within the Park to respond to increased demand, improve quality and safety and to reduce conflict between users,” Ms Solly said.

She said it was identified the trail network can be difficult to navigate due to the irregular sign system and complexity of the current trail layout.

“The Crater Lakes trails have been in use for many years, and in their current ad-hoc form poses a risk with different user groups activating the same areas concurrently such as cyclists and walkers, and in some cases, vehicles,” Ms Solly said.

“The plan has been developed with a focus on universal design and the inclusion of access for all.

“The plan will enable council to manage these risks more effectively by providing consistent detailed informative signage and by ensuring the trails are maintained in accordance with Australian Standards, the Australian (Mountain Bike) Trail Difficulty Rating System (TDRS) and will comply with any legislative requirements under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 and any other relevant legislation.”

Ms Solly also noted the plan aligns with South Australian Government’s statewide Trails Strategy 2023-2033.

Through extensive research, community engagement and collaboration amongst stakeholders, the plan presents a blueprint for a formalised network of trails.

It was also highlighted an additional full-time employee would be required to support existing staff due to extra maintenance requirements.

She said volunteers would also be engaged to help with the ongoing maintenance of the trails.

“Having a shovel ready plan will enable Council to more effectively attract any funding opportunities that may arise in the future to enable works to occur,” Ms Solly said.

Meanwhile, a compulsory key recommendation is that cultural engagement is to be undertaken throughout the implementation of the plan.

“The Crater Lakes is a culturally significant site for our First Nations community,” Ms Solly said.

“Cultural engagement is to be undertaken throughout the implementation of the plan to ensure culturally considered outcomes are reached.

“The plan aligns with the key actions outlined in council’s Yerkalalpata Reconciliation Action Plan.

“Our First Nations community will be engaged throughout the implementation plan to ensure a cultural lens over all areas of the delivery of the plan.”

Ms Solly also made reference to the environmental implications of the trails.

“When trails are carefully planned, designed and managed, they can direct users to designated areas suitable for their recreational activities, thereby reducing the potential for unauthorised trails that may harm sensitive habitats or ecosystems,” she said.

“Well-designed and properly managed trails that are sensitive to the landscape can help preserve and protect the environment.

“By implementing appropriate trail construction and maintenance techniques, the impact on ecosystems, habitats, and sensitive areas can be minimised ensuring the trails add value to the area while preserving its natural integrity.”

Ms Solly also said there was many social and health benefits.

“There are many social and health benefits associated with walking, running and mountain biking in natural areas including improved mental and physical health, community connection, active gatherings and outdoor learning for children,” she said.

“Offering a space for outdoor recreation and promoting physical activity can contribute to the wellbeing of the community and create a sense of pride and ownership.”

Councillor Sonya Mezinec moved the recommendation which was seconded by Cr Max Bruins.

Crs Kate Amoroso, Josh Lynagh and Mark Lovett were not present at the meeting to make their vote known.

Visit to view The Crater Lakes trails plan, sign plan and quick reference guide attached to the meeting agenda.

Why wait? Get more stories like this delivered straight to your inbox
Join our digital edition mailing list and stay up to date on the latest news, events and special announcements from across the Limestone Coast.

Your local real estate guide - every Thursday


You might also like