“At the same time, the lack of access between Eastern Beach and Main Beach has always been a missed opportunity for the town.
“Add to that, our region’s rich indigenous heritage is poorly understood and rarely presented in a public environment to locals and the many visitors who travel to Lakes Entrance.
“The idea for this indigenous-themed circuit is to feature artwork and tell the story of the traditional owners, as well as the township which has developed over the past 170 years.
“I believe the proposal will increase understanding of indigenous history and culture, support growth in the regional tourism industry, provide for practical environmental works to rehabilitate the estuary and, of course, deliver an outstanding exercise opportunity for all ages, especially people with mobility issues.”
Mr Chester said local consultants, Archistyle and Lake Tyers Beach Design, had worked with LEADA and all stakeholders to develop the preliminary concepts.
“We are receiving feedback now that will help as final drafts are prepared and we can make some proper cost estimates,” Mr Chester said.
“Depending on the final scope of works and the materials used to achieve the finished result, the total cost to develop the pathway, rehabilitate the foreshore and enhance areas near the footbridge and surf life saving club could be in the range of $5 million to $8 million.
“My plan is to secure most of the money from the Federal Government as part of bushfire recovery initiatives to boost the region and make our visitor economy more resilient.”
The proposed circuit would allow for better utilisation of existing assets (unfinished pathways, toilet blocks, car parks) and provide safe, off-road access to the CBD for residents and accommodation providers; better launching facilities for kayaks and paddle boards; and encourage travellers to take a break in Lakes Entrance.
Mr Chester said there had been some preliminary discussions with local Indigenous community leaders on how to utilise circuit to tell the story of the traditional owners.
“Personally, I believe that incorporating design elements, like the shield-style platforms and local artwork from the Gunaikurnai people, would be a practical demonstration of reconciliation and provide exposure for talented local Indigenous artists,” Mr Chester said.
“Lakes Entrance has a rich indigenous heritage which is poorly understood and rarely presented to locals and the many visitors who visit the seaside fishing village.
“There will be more opportunities for consultation with local Indigenous elders and the broader community as the designs are finalised but it’s certainly an exciting project.
“Having a raised boardwalk along the lakeside would minimise environmental impacts and allow people in wheelchairs, mobility scooters and families with prams to enjoy a 4.5 kilometre circuit in complete safety.”