PARKS Victoria wants to add a modern flavour to the popular Tower Hill picnic area with rain shelters and has called for visitors to share their opinion.
A draft master plan was put on display yesterday for discussion as the department gleans opinions on what it hopes will be the first major change to the area in at least a decade.
However, there are no plans to rip out trees or radically alter the natural setting, according to the department’s Warrnambool manager Ben Hammond.
“We don’t want to upset the natural environment, just a facelift to make it more enjoyable,” Mr Hammond said.
“It’s been at least 10 years since a major renovation of the area.
“There’s a distinct lack of shelter from anything other than the best of weather.
“We’d be looking at shelter over the tables and barbecue and perhaps one or two more barbecues.”
Mr Hammond said the park attracted about 200,000 visitors a year, including a high percentage of international tourists impressed by the accessibility of wildlife. “There’s probably nowhere else around where you can get so close to wildlife in a natural setting for free,” he said.
“And among the local community there’s a lot of feeling and passion for Tower Hill.
“We think we’ve got a good chance of getting funding for the master plan with support from Parks Victoria headquarters, Warrnambool City and Moyne Shire councils and the local MP Denis Napthine.”
The draft master plan will be on show from 11am to 4pm.
Mr Hammond said there were no plans to alter the heritage-listed visitor centre designed by acclaimed architect Robin Boyd.
Tower Hill is described as one of the most obvious young volcanic features in Australia and one of the largest maars in the world.
The most recent estimates put the eruption at 20,000 years ago rather than 7000 as suggested by earlier studies.