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Blueprint for growth: 900km bathing trail proposed for Australia

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By 2030 we could create a signature wellness experience that’s nature-based, wellness-focused and defined by a common regenerative development philosophy.

Matt Sykes, former experience manager at Australia’s Peninsula Hot Springs, has proposed a blueprint for Victoria's emerging hot springs and bathing tourism sector.

Sykes produced the blueprint after he won the Victoria Tourism Industry Council’s Lynette Bergin Fellowship in 2018. It was recently presented at the G3T summit (Global Thermal Think Tank), the California Hot Springs Convention and the Victorian Tourism conference.

Sykes has proposed a 900km bathing trail along Australia’s southern coastline – called the Great Victorian Bathing Cycle.

The integrated coastal bathing trail would link hot springs running from Metung to Portland; taking in a stretch of sea baths and saunas around Port Phillip Bay, as well as a string of baths and floating saunas along the Yarra River.

In total, the cycle would connect around 50 locations, business and initiatives.

The trail will connect a wide variety of bathing destinations including hot springs and sea baths, river baths and beaches, mineral springs, forest baths and salt, ice and lake baths.

The Great Victorian Bathing Cycle will connect with Victoria’s Aboriginal Cultural Trail as well as hiking, rail and bike trails. Routes will take in Victoria’s Green Necklace and Melbourne’s Blue Necklace.

To inform the blueprint, Sykes visited global thermal destinations, researching industry benchmarks and experiencing a variety of international bathing methods. He started in Southern and Central Australia, he then travelled to Tasmania and then furth afield to China and Japan.

He also explored Europe, visiting Iceland, Finland and Norway, and then Denmark, Sweden and the UK.

The trail would begin at the Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Spring in Warrnambool and trace the coastline to the state’s Eastern border Metung on the Gippsland Lakes in East Gippsland, where Peninsula Hot Springs is also developing a hot springs wellness hotel and bathing marina.

Along the way, people have the opportunity to experience the Twelve Apostles Hot Springs near Port Campbell, opening January 2022; Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula; the Phillip Island Hot Springs and Saltwater Baths, which are under construction and the Nunduk Hot Springs Resort in Seacombe, East Gippsland which is scheduled to open in 2021.

Sykes argues the initiative will kickstart community and economic regeneration and is an opportunity to create a nature-based economy which is supportive of the local ecology.

“Victoria has a plethora of geothermal springs,” he said, “this creates a unique selling point globally for our state and positions Victoria prominently among destinations around the world that are focusing on this lucrative and growing sector.”

“By 2030 we could create a signature wellness experience that’s nature-based, wellness-focused and defined by a common regenerative development philosophy.”

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Matt Sykes, former experience manager at Australia’s Peninsula Hot Springs, has proposed a blueprint for Victoria's emerging hot springs and bathing tourism sector.
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