A MASTERPLAN for the picnic area at Tower Hill reserve is under way with $50,000 set aside for the project.
Friends of Tower Hill gathered with other volunteers on Sunday to plant understorey species around the visitor centre as part of the ongoing revegetation of the reserve.
Parks Victoria Warrnambool ranger-in-charge Ben Hammond said the upgrade would provide shelter over two barbecues, a larger shelter area for tour groups and cover for some of the picnic tables.
There will also be a review of signage at the entrance to the reserve.
He said it was hoped the work would make the area more usable all-year-round.
“We’re working on the masterplan now,” Mr Hammond said.
“We’re already working with key stakeholders and working on the first draft.
“This is big for us.”
Mr Hammond said the next step would be community consultation on the masterplan.
Parks Victoria has also committed $28,000 to upgrade the Lava Tongue boardwalk, which is expected to be completed by June next year.
Mr Hammond said having an additional ranger stationed at Tower Hill full-time had helped to improve the reserve.
He said Parks Victoria had assisted the Friends of Tower Hill to pick up funding from the Department of Sustainability and Environment for weed control and support from Moyne Shire Council for an additional barbecue.
About 40 people were expected to help with the tree-planting day. Mr Hammond said the community had been vital in the upkeep and maintenance of the reserve. Friends of Tower Hill member John Sutherland said the reserve was looking the best it had in a long time thanks to recent rain.
He said the majority of recent visitors had been from Europe, with most from England, Austria, Germany and Holland.
“They seem to have hung off coming because of the dollar and then they’ve just thought ‘let’s go’,” he said.
“It’s one of the only places in Victoria where you can see koalas, kangaroos and emus as wildlife in the one place.
“The indigenous cultural heritage is also a reason why people come.”