THE latest section of path along the Bega River at the Old Bega Racecourse was officially opened yesterday.
Completing the “Bridge to Bridge” project, the path will stretch from the Bega River Bridge to the one at Tarraganda.
Members of the community, children and representatives of the organisations that had worked on the track attended the proceedings.
The ribbon was cut by Member for Bega Andrew Constance with the help of enthusiastic children from Mumbulla School.
Bega River and Wetlands Landcare (BRAWL) community coordinator Vickie Goldsmith said the process of creating the track had been “amazing” and the state and local governments, as well as the community organisations, had all worked really easily together to make it happen.
She said benefits of the project include increased opportunities for social activities, more reasons to be active and instilling community pride.
People can use the area on and around the track for dog walking, cycling, soccer games or can make use of the picnic facilities.
Money for the project has come from the Bega Valley Shire Council environmental grants program, and the NSW Environmental Trust, which will provide two more years of funding so the project can be completed by 2016.
BRAWL treasurer Alison Rodway said there had been a “huge” change from 2006 when the project began on a considerably degraded area.
“We had a dream it would be like this, but couldn’t believe it would happen in such a short space of time,” she said.
“It’s returning to a much more natural state.”
Ms Rodway said there is now a significant number of native plants instead of weeds, which has stabilised the river banks and helps prevent them from degrading.
Pupils in Years 4, 5 and 6 from Mumbulla School cycled from their school along the new track to take part in the event.
When asked how the ride along the track had been they all replied in chorus “good”.
Members from Bega Rotary hosted a barbecue for all those who attended.
Bega Valley Shire Mayor Bill Taylor attended and congratulated all the people who had been involved in the project, particularly the volunteers.
Mr Constance spoke to the crowd about the process of the project and the effect it will have on the town.
“It’s absolutely tremendous to see this project evolve in the way that it has,” he said.
“Dollars aside, politicians aside, the enormous benefit this brings in terms of the social benefit – of people walking by saying g’day to each other - through to the environmental benefits, is absolutely tremendous.
“The Bega River is something which is very important, it is something that isn’t celebrated enough and to be able to now have the bridge to bridge pathway is something which is going to benefit the community in a way that it hasn’t in the past.”
Mr Constance acknowledged the contribution of south East Local Land Services, Shannon Brennan, BVSC, Derek van Bracht, NSW Trades and Investments Crown Lands, BRAWL, Bega Cheese, ONTRACK and the local landholders.
BRAWL meets on the first Monday of every month to work on projects along the river - to get involved call Ms Goldsmith on 0411 392 333.