Trail officially open

By Benalla Ensign

The Benalla-Mokoan trail is now officially open following the launch of its final link, which connects the town and Winton Wetlands.

Winton Wetlands Committee of Management, together with Benalla Rural City Council, opened the 21km trail, which runs from the Mokoan Hub and Cafe, along the foreshore, atop the Dam Wall, following Kennedy Creek and Sydney Rd into Benalla.

The trail is perfectly suited to those who prefer to push the pedals at a more leisurely pace and enjoy unrivalled wildlife spotting.

You can discover the Wetlands’ cultural significance and natural treasures while wheeling through river red gums, grasslands and rare box woodland.

The trail is also dotted with interpretive signage that offers a unique overview of the value of the wetlands — historically and ecologically.

Monash University’s Emeritus Professor Sam Lake, who dedicated his career to researching ecology, said the foreshore component of the trail focused on the regeneration of the site.

‘‘The restoration effort required for a site of this size comprises a rich diversity of habitats, species populations and ecological communities — an effort that will take time— years and decades,’’ Professor Lake said.

The Aboriginal history of the site is reflected along the Dam Wall through stories from Yorta Yorta elders.

Graham Briggs, Indigenous Trails Project Manager and Dhulanyagan Clansman of the Yorta Yorta Nation, said Winton Wetlands had been charged with helping to formalise a program between traditional owner groups and visitors.

‘‘(This includes) setting up consultative processes surrounding the use of how we care for country and how we are reinstalling the environmental protection of water and the ecological landscape,’’ Mr Briggs said.

The signs also connect to a digital platform that includes research, videos, statistics and sound elements.

Winton Wetlands visitation manager Tanya McAlpin said the digital component allowed visitors to have a greater and deeper connection with the site.

‘‘It ensures that our education groups can use this as an ongoing learning and teaching tool — which is paramount to the success and future of this project,’’ Ms McAlpin said.

This trail and its link to Benalla will create awareness, increase visitation and strengthen connections between the community and the natural world.

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