East Gippsland Hinterland Drive Trail

We were engaged by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment to develop a hinterland trail for all wheel drives, in order to stimulate the tourism and related businesses within the Gippsland economy, via: increasing overnight visitation and length of stay within the region; increasing the viability of the region’s tourism sector; and generating additional employment in the tourism sector and supporting sectors (local food and retail production).

Our work started with an analysis of existing drive markets to the region, and a comparison of these with drive markets in other drive market regions, to understand existing and potential target markets. With an idea on the potential target markets, we undertook an extensive drive-based product audit from Melbourne to Merimbula, to identify the strength and match of potential products and supporting infrastructure and facilities, and subsequently, the best route to take. We looked for obvious ‘hooks’ that could be used as key experiences to attract the target markets.

Our analysis of the Gippsland Drive Trail mapped experience value over several days (pale blue) and revised experience intensity following product development and reinvigoration (purple)

Some of our innovations in the Project included:

  1. It provided a structured tour-program-like approach akin to a travel writers’ itinerary. In this way each experience complimented each other and could be delivered to a consistent quality.
  2. We developed an interpretation concept about the people of the local area so that the route could sequentially tell a captivating story. Interpretive signs and tours reveal the way locals have endured and overcome enormous struggles in the timber, mining and tourism sectors through inspiring innovation, leadership and team work.
  3. The route was designed to be packaged so that customers could choose to pre-purchase the recommended accommodation, meals and tours beforehand, ensuring a hassle free journey.

The Trail was designed to be launched to operate on weekends when accommodation and food and beverage operators can ensure they are operating. As business and occupancy increased in this period, it was planned that operators would collectively expand this guaranteed operating period through school holiday periods and then either side of weekends.

An Implementation Plan was built to the back end of the Concept Plan that provided a staged set of actions and budget. To ensure the whole of the experience could be delivered to a consistently strong standard, the project included capacity building for some existing tourism businesses and product development and reinvigoration. Approximately $350,000 of seed funding from the State government has been given to the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment to assist with this and some marketing.

Vic Dept Sustainability and Environment