“Enjoy this moment, this place,” said Steve Moneghetti at the site of the GDT launch. (Photo: Tim Bach)

“We know what’s happened in the past and we don’t know what’s ahead of us,” said Steve Moneghetti, Patron of the Great Dividing Trail Association, speaking to members. “But right now we’re enjoying a lunch with friends in this beautiful place. For now, let’s live in the present. Enjoy this moment and this place.”

The “place” was a grassy meadow overlooking a rail cutting near the old Wombat Station site where the Great Dividing Trail was launched on October 24, 1992. The “moment” was a GDTA walk to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of that launch.

Steve, who succeeded John Landy as Patron of the GDTA, also spoke warmly about his predecessor. “John was a committed environmentalist. He loved the outdoors and he was a great supporter of the GDTA and their work to build opportunities for people to enjoy our natural environment,” he said.

The GDT now stretches for over 300km with a hub at Daylesford and trails to Ballarat, to Bendigo and to Bacchus Marsh. The Ballarat-Creswick-Daylesford-Castlemaine-Bendigo trail is know as the Goldfields Track. The Daylesford-Blackwood-Bacchus Marsh trail is known as the Lerderderg Track. The Tracks have recently been upgraded to welcome walkers and cyclists.

Barry Golding, who was the Convenor of the Steering Committee that envisioned the GDT, spoke at the site where the Trail was launched. “At this very spot 30 years ago, we drew a line in the sand cut the ribbons and said, ‘The Great Dividing Trail is underway!'” The Trail didn’t yet exist but the idea had support from the Department of Conservation and Environment (DCE), the Victorian Tourism Commission, the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs, the Victorian National Parks Association and many other educational, environmental and tourism groups and local government councils along the proposed route.

About 40 walkers made their way along a rain affected route that started at the old Wombat Station. The walk followed “Cuttings and Culverts”, a 12k circuit highlighted in the GTDA’s Circuit Walks and Rides in the Central Victorian Highlands available from their website or the Daylesford Visitor Information Centre.

Lunch, supplied by Gary Thomas at Spade to Blade, and refreshments greeted walkers when they reached the site of the GDT launch. In an unscripted and entirely coincidental meeting, Collin McDonald, past president of Bushwalking Victoria, arrived at the site from another direction with a small group of walkers just as festivities commenced.

GDTA Rides Ambassador, Lisa Jacobs, congratulated the GDTA on their achievements over the past 30 years and thanked Barry Golding, Gib Wettenhall, Bill Casey and Ed Butler for their enduring dedication to the GDT. She added thanks from mountain bikers. “There are many tracks where cyclists aren’t welcome so it’s great to be a part of the GDTA where cyclists are welcome and the track has been designed to make them welcome,” she said.

The GDTA worked with land managers to build the Track and now works to maintain and develop the Track. Goldfields Track Inc., the marketing group for the Goldfields Track has undertaken an interpretive signage and visitor enhancement project in conjunction with Regional Development Victoria and Djandak, the corporate arm of the  Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. The GDTA is raising funds for a similar project along the Lerderderg Track.