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Intro

On behalf of all Western Australians, the authors of the WA Strategic Trails Blueprint acknowledge and value the heritage, culture and spiritual connection of Aboriginal people with the lands and waterways through which trails pass. We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the Traditional Custodians and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Acknowledgements

This project was jointly funded by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

This document was produced with input from a Stakeholder Reference Group and with oversight from a Project Management Group. Al recommendations were developed and tested with both groups.

All consultancy work was completed by Common Ground Trails.

Project Management Group

Steve Bennett, Suzie Andrews (DLGSC), Kerstin Stender (DBCA), Megan Watson and David Willcox (Common Ground Trails).

Stakeholder Reference Group

Ross MacCulloch (Tourism WA), Vivien Claughton (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation), Robert Taylor (WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council), Francois Sauzier (Department of Transport), Bec Waddington (WA Local Government Association), Agata Sleeman (Trails WA) and Dr Gina Ambrosini (Department of Health).

The Project Management Group would also like to acknowledge the significant voluntary time and inputs provide by representatives. from the trail industry at interviews, workshops and in reviewing the "draft for-comment" document.

Conflicts of Interest were managed by DLGSC.

Photography: See images for credits.

Image selection: Denne Young

Cover image: Arklow Trail Network, near Collie. Photo by Frances Andrijich.

Disclaimer

Common Ground Trails Pty Ltd, its employees, directors and associated entities shall not be liable for any loss, damage, claim, costs, demands and expenses for any damage or injury of any kind whatsoever and howsoever arriving in connection with the use of this document or in connection with activities undertaken on trails generally.

While all due care and consideration has been undertaken in the preparation of this document, Common Ground Trails Pty Ltd advise that all recommendations, actions and information provided in this document is based upon research as referenced in this document.

Common Ground Trails Pty Ltd and its employees are not qualified to provide legal, medical or financial advice. Accordingly, detailed information in this regard will require additional professional consultation in order to adequately manage and maintain the facilities and reduce risk.

ISBN: 978-1-921648-64-9

Foreword

Blessed with landscapes which naturally invite us into the outdoors, trails have been an important and valued feature of the Western Australian landscape for more than 60,000 years.

Our State’s geography allows us to engage in a diverse range of trail experiences — be it a challenging ride, a leisurely stroll or a paddle along one of our many pristine waterways.

Some of Western Australia’s most-loved trails follow traditional pathways through country that has been used by Aboriginal people for generations.

Even through some of the most disruptive and challenging times for the industry, trails have remained incredibly popular, increasing opportunities for social interactions, facilitating better health outcomes and growing the appreciation for our natural environment.

Social distancing and isolation guidelines during the height of the pandemic meant more people were holidaying at home and trails were considered a safe, affordable and enjoyable activity.

The growth in participation has been met with investment by the State Government, for example more than $20 million invested in the Great Southern region towards trails and National Park amenities and election commitments such as the Dwellingup Trails Gap Project.

We now face incredible opportunities to harness the advantage of increased participation in trail activities and create opportunities that promote and grow trails in WA to embrace and benefit communities on an economic, tourism and social level.

We have shown strength and resilience during difficult times and should be proud of our work to date on trails.

I am pleased that the Western Australian Strategic Trails Blueprint 2022-2027 has identified strategic directions for the future that respond to emerging challenges and opportunities.

This document builds on the previous strategy and demonstrates the maturation of the trail community, providing a strong foundation to launch into the next five years.

It is a valuable resource for Western Australia to guide future investment, planning consistency and the sustainable trails development across our State — with the Trails Reference Group to oversee the implementation program through to 2027.

Of course, this document would not be possible without the enduring collaborative partnership between government, industry and the community.

I would like to extend a special thanks to our key decision makers for their continued investment in Western Australia’s trail industry.

The growing importance of trails to the visitor and tourism economy as well as its powerful influence on community development and personal wellbeing is significant and I look forward to the opportunities for the Western Australian community ahead.

Hon David Templeman MLA
Minister for Sport and Recreation

Hon Reece Whitby MLA
Minister for Environmen
t

I believe the WA Strategic Trails Blueprint clearly articulates a transition toward deepening connection to country, community, and culture.

This shift will assist to identify and engage with Aboriginal people to collaborate and ensure that First Nation's peoples' cultural values are integrated across all stages of trail development.

Aboriginal people can connect trail users to at least 60,000 thousand years of Dreaming Trail networks across this beautiful place we now share.

Therefore I congratulate the Trails Reference Group, and all authors of the WA Strategic Trails Blueprint. I can now hope as this trails blueprint passes from our direct sphere of influence, that it will receive the due diligence that it deserves.

Dr Noel G Nannup OAM

Executive summary

The WA Strategic Trails Blueprint 2022-2027 (the Blueprint) is an overarching guide for consistent and coordinated planning, development and management of quality trails and trail experiences across Western Australia. It provides a vision, guiding principles, strategic directions and actions for consideration across the state by government, trail managers, landholders, trail organisations, tourism operators and the community.

Building on the successes of the Western Australian Strategic Trails Blueprint 2017-2021, this new Blueprint presents a strategic refocus for the trails industry with a shift towards deepening trail users’ connection to country, community and culture, whilst ensuring ongoing economic, environmental and social sustainability of trail developments.

Western Australia is blessed with stunning natural landscapes and opportunities to connect communities and visitors to these landscapes through trails. The Blueprint expresses the aspirations of the trails community to achieve improved and sustainable outcomes for trail supply, trail experiences, community development, Aboriginal enterprise, job creation and the local, regional and state visitor economies.

There have been record levels of investment committed to major trail projects such as Collie, Dwellingup and several locations within the Great Southern region. Conversely, there has been a significant reduction in funding approvals for the planning and construction of smaller, community-based projects state-wide. This has created a two-speed trails economy that has led to a level of inconsistency of trail provision.

Physical and mental health continues to be vitally important to the general wellbeing of Western Australian communities, and trails in all their forms provide a valuable outlet for exercise, play, challenge, recreation and adventure. This adds to the quality of life for Western Australians and reduces reliance on health services. Trails also improve the awareness and appreciation of the natural environment and build support for its conservation and protection.

Tourism is now playing a bigger and more significant role in the development of trails, as visitors look for interesting, challenging, authentic and unique experiences as part of their holidays and travels. This document recognises that quality trails have the ability to create “Trail Towns”, “Trail Centres”, “Trail Networks” and "Trail Destinations”, which provide economic, tourism and social benefits to communities and regions.

Moving forward it is important that there is an Increased focus placed on ensuring trails are inclusive, accessible, have robust funding and management models, and are developed through engagement with Traditional Custodians and all other stakeholders.

Blueprint Vision

By 2027, Western Australia’s trails will connect more people to Country through shared experiences in diverse landscapes, resulting in greater community, social, cultural, economic, environmental, health and wellbeing outcomes for Western Australia.

Blueprint strategic pillars and actions

To achieve the vision for trails in Western Australia within this Blueprint, the following eight strategic pillars and associated actions were identified:

Note: the engagement and contribution of Aboriginal people is applied across all strategic pillars.

A. Greater trail use and awareness

  1. Grow participation and reduce barriers to maximise the positive benefits of getting communities outdoors.
  2. Grow participation and reduce barriers to maximise the positive benefits of getting communities outdoors.
  3. Support safe and responsible recreation and tourism trail use through provision of adequate facilities, resources and education.
  4. Build the capacity of trail focused events to increase participation and trail led economic stimulus.
  5. Establish an effective coordinated system for trail communication, promotion and marketing.
  6. Increase coverage of Western Australian trails in all forms of media, including social media.

B. Consistent and collaborative planning

  1. Continue the development and implementation of an integrated and consistent approach to trail and other relevant planning at state, regional and local levels.
  2. Continue to evolve the regional trails masterplan framework.

C. Sustainable design, construction and maintenance

  1. Ensure that information and training on best practice, sustainable trail design, construction and maintenance is available to current and potential trail developers, trail managers, volunteers, Aboriginal organisations and Local Governments.
  2. Advocate across all trail types and infrastructure provision for best practice construction and maintenance guidelines to be developed.

D. Community engagement

  1. Encourage community stewardship for trails by supporting and facilitating improvements in volunteer trail development, maintenance and management.
  2. Encourage environmental stewardship through participation in trail related training and programs.
  3. Enhance opportunities for community development through participation in trail experiences, activities and programs.
  4. Identify and engage with Aboriginal people to collaborate in the trail development process and ensure cultural values are integrated across all stages of trail development.

E. Sound knowledge base

  1. Investigate and evaluate trail use and trail technology trends to inform decision-making on new trail development, maintenance and participation.
  2. Improve the availability of trail-related data and research for use in trail planning, development, management, funding and safety.
  3. Establish education and training programs regarding sustainable trail development processes.

F. Effective governance

  1. Strengthen state-wide governance arrangements for trails across the trail sector through ensuring a coordinated approach.
  2. Strengthen involvement of Aboriginal people in the governance of trails.
  3. Develop sustainable governance models for trails, trail destinations and trail networks.

G. Investment and financing

  1. Provide guidance and support to organisations, communities and regions to evaluate and seek investment in existing and future trails.
  2. Investigate and encourage the adoption and expansion of a range of sustainable funding and resource options for the development, maintenance and management of trails.
  3. Establish a dedicated state-wide funding program for trail planning, construction, maintenance and participation.

H. Growing the visitor economy

  1. Identify iconic trails to be developed and promoted as the best in Western Australia and implement a staged program of trail development and promotion for iconic trails.
  2. Encourage and support private sector involvement in improving trail experiences.
  3. Encourage and support the involvement of Aboriginal people and enterprise in improving trail experiences.
  4. Implement the Trail Town Accreditation and Trail Friendly Business programs.
  5. Identify locally and regionally significant trails with the potential to stimulate tourism economies through increased intrastate visitation.
Page reviewed 16 March 2022