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It's a community asset that stretches more than 50 kilometres, features beautiful landscapes and historic buildings, and it's used by all sorts of people at all sorts of times - so why isn't more being done to look after the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail?
While it was last given a full refresh in 2008 after being opened in 1998, parts of the trail date back to 1883.
Popular with cyclists and horse riders as well as runners and walking groups, regular users Mal Vallance and Wayne Harrop try to get out there as much as they can - either riding the full length or enjoying a scenic ride to smaller towns like Linton or Scarsdale.
Map of the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail. Source: Wikipedia, user Stevage (CC)
Mr Vallance said he's disappointed to notice more wear and tear on the trail, a belief reinforced after a recent visit to rail trails in Beechworth and Bright.
"This rail trail is a fantastic resource, it's got enormous potential, and not only in recreational and health benefits," he said.
Nimmons Bridge. Picture: Kate Healy
"In the north-east of Victoria, all the trails, in Beechworth and Bright, all have hard-stand bitumen surfaces, and I think that'd be absolutely brilliant here, it'd be a good future prospect to seal it."
While he concedes that'd be quite expensive, he points to the increase use from new families moving to places like Lucas.
For the moment, he said there should be more vegetation removal going on to keep the Skipton trail safe for riders.
"They're mowing the grass, but it's virtually growing over the track," he said.
"That creates a problem for cyclists, and a potential for accidents."
They're mowing the grass, but it's virtually growing over the track
Cyclist Mal Vallance
On Tuesday, a woman was taken to hospital in a stable condition with chest injuries after a bike accident near the iconic Nimmons Bridge, near Newtown.
Mr Vallance also said he had concerns about bollards being stolen - these metal posts prevent vehicles from accessing the track, and he said he's seen more go missing.
In response, Golden Plains Shire said the entire trail is inspected every year, with a recent inspection, on bicycle, including a representative from Trails Victoria.
The representative was "complimentary of the trail".
The annual maintenance budget for the trail is prioritised by safety and includes clearing vegetation and grading maintenance.
Similarly, the City of Ballarat is responsible for the trail from Ring Road to the shire's border, according to infrastructure and environment spokesperson Terry Demeo.
"Under Council's road management plan, the path is considered a high use path and is subject to multiple inspections over a 12-month period," he said.
"With the recent rain event, Council has been alerted to some wash out areas and other maintenance requirements and these are to be addressed immediately."
Golden Plains Shire encourages users to take care and adjust their activities to conditions on this open natural trail.
If trailusers see an area of concern, phone 5220 1711 or report it online at http://www.goldenplains.vic.gov.au
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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