The push to set up a dedicated walking track from Otford to Mount Kembla is gathering steam.
Bushwalkers and conservationists are calling on Wollongong City Council and the state government to help develop a connected walking track from Otford near the Royal National Park in the north, to Mount Kembla.
For the past three decades, the plan for a Grand Escarpment Walk has progressed slowly, but at next week’s Wollongong City Council meeting, a motion will be put calling for support.
The city council is moving to create a ‘‘Grand Pacific Walk’’ – a project for a 60-kilometre shared cycle and pedestrian path from the Royal National Park to Lake Illawarra, along the Grand Pacific Drive route.
The council plans to begin the first stage, at Coledale, this financial year.
National Parks Association Illawarra branch president Graham Burgess said the walk would be the perfect complement to the council initiative.
‘‘The community has waited a long time for this. It will be a real credit to Wollongong City Council and state government if they can help us make it happen as it will have environmental and financial spin-offs for the region,’’ Mr Burgess said.
Monday’s council meeting will consider whether to do a report on the development of the walk so far, and models for a detailed plan which could then be used to seek government funding for linking the existing walking trails.
‘‘A multi-day escarpment walking track would traverse magnificent bushland, boast world-class views, provide another activity for the region’s tourists, as well as add to conservation efforts by raising awareness nationally or even internationally of our iconic escarpment bushland reserves,’’ Mr Burgess said.
‘‘There have been plans for the long-distance escarpment walk in the pipeline for 30 years or so but it has been very slow to progress.
‘‘The state government has provided limited funding, via the National Parks and Wildlife Service, for some work in connecting and marking parts of the track but a boost in funding is well overdue.’’