Planning for a new multi-million-dollar ecotourism attraction near Apollo Bay is set to go ahead, after receiving council approval and more than $500,000 in government support.
The new Wildlife Wonders, to be designed and created by Brian Massey, art director of The Hobbit films and designer of the popular Hobbiton movie set in New Zealand, is the next venture for the Cape Otway-based Conservation Ecology Centre.
The attraction, expected to open in December 2018, will create at least 30 permanent full-time tourism or conservation jobs and about 44 jobs during the construction stage.
Conservation Ecology Centre chief Lizzie Corke said Wildlife Wonders would be on a spectacular 20-hectare property west of Apollo Bay and the attraction would be the first of its kind on the Great Ocean Road.
Ms Corke said she would reinvest the profits from Wildlife Wonders into the Conservation Ecology Centre’s research and conservation activities in the Otways, including its work with koalas and tiger quolls.
Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson announced yesterday that Wildlife Wonders was one of three Otways projects to receive funding through a government Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure program, along with $450,000 for the Wye Beach Hotel’s expansion and $300,000 towards the construction of Forrest’s Platypi Chocolate Project.
“The Wildlife Wonders project, driven by Lizzie Corke of the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre, will receive $557,962 to undertake planning, design and the development of a business case for a new Australian wildlife ecotourism experience.
“Matching funding will be provided by private investors through the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre,” Ms Henderson said.
“The proposed facility will house Australian wildlife in a natural setting and be designed to educate visitors and support conservation efforts for Australian wildlife.
“Should the business case for Wildlife Wonders be positive, additional private investment of $6.4 million will bring the total project investment to over $7.4 million.”
Ms Corke said she wanted visitors to the area to be able to “experience the Otways truly vibrant with wildlife”.
“Accompanied by a qualified conservationist guide, small groups of visitors will experience a beautifully restored area, where koalas doze in the treetops, potoroos and bandicoots forage on the ferny forest floors and kangaroos hop along the horizon against a spectacular ocean vista,” she said.
For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.