Wollongong City Council has taken baby steps towards the construction of a world-class walking track between Morton National Park in the Southern Highlands and Royal National Park.
A proposal for the Illawarra Escarpment Walking Track has existed for around 30 years, however on Monday night councillors passed a motion to identify potential models which could be used as the basis for funding applications to state and federal governments.
The initial planning would aim to create the walk between Mount Kembla and Royal National Park.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, National Parks Association Illawarra branch president Graham Burgess said the track would complement council’s ‘‘Grand Pacific Walk’’, which is already in the pipeline and aims to link Royal National Park to Lake Illawarra along the Grand Pacific Drive route.
"It’s about ... making this 30-year dream a reality and we think Wollongong City Council has a role to play in this," he said.
"Importantly the likely funding stream for the escarpment walk is certainly not council, it is more likely to be the Office of Environmental Heritage as most of the walk is actually on those parts of escarpment which are environmentally zoned areas.
The motion was introduced by Greens councillor George Takacs.
Cr Takacs said because the path would partially traverse private land, it was vital for council to be involved.
‘‘I can’t think of another body in this city that can ... sit down and bring all those parties together,’’ he said.
Cr Takacs said initial discussions with members of the local Aboriginal community had been positive, and said the track could provide opportunities for young people to connect with culture.
Last week, federal environment minister Greg Hunt voiced his support for World Heritage nomination for Royal National Park.
In voting for the motion, councillors said it was hoped a world class walking track would increase the chances of the park being listed as World Heritage.
Councillor Leigh Colacino threw his support behind the idea, and said the escarpment had great ‘‘untapped’’ tourist markets.
‘‘This is one of those prime examples where we really need to investigate,’’ he said.