WESTERN Victoria MP James Purcell welcomed the state government’s funding for Tower Hill but said more was needed to improve the “dangerous” entrance to the nature reserve.
Mr Purcell said Tower Hill was one of the first things he advocated for upon his arrival at state parliament.
State regional development minister Jaala Pulford announced about $140,000 to improve the visitor experience at the reserve, with money for improved signage, new tours, four new jobs, and a marketing strategy.
“I’m very happy Jaala Pulford came down and made the announcement,” Mr Purcell said.
“Visitors rate this as the best experience they have at any Parks Victoria site. The ability to walk around with the native animals and see them in the wild is a unique experience. We need to be allowing more people do it in safety and comfort.”
But he said more funding was needed to improve access to the reserve from the Princes Highway.
“That road is dangerous,” Mr Purcell said.
“Anyone coming in here finds it difficult and dangerous to get in. It needs to be more inviting.”
The funding’s delivery will fall to Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Co-operative and Parks Victoria.
Worn Gundidj chief executive Shannon Collyer said the announcement was great news, with the co-operative also contributing $23,000 to the projects.
“This money goes a long way to improving … the experience for international and local visitors,” Mr Collyer said.
Moyne and Warrnambool councils also welcomed the announcement.
Warrnambool mayor Kylie Gaston said Tower Hill was “absolutely under-appreciated in terms of tourism in Victoria”.
Moyne mayor Jim Doukas called the funding “fantastic”.
“It’s a great outcome and a good start to a great future for Tower Hill,” he said.
“It’s great news for the surrounding district – for Port Fairy, Koroit, and Warrnambool. Everyone will benefit.”
Moyne and Warrnambool councils have been working together to advocate for Tower Hill and were part of a new group which met for the first time in late July with the aim of directing much-needed attention and investment toward the nature reserve.
The Tower Hill Working Group’s aim was to put a business case to Ms Pulford in the hopes of securing funding from the state government.
The working group includes representatives from Parks Victoria, VicRoads, Moyne Shire, Warrnambool City Council, Regional Development Victoria, and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, with more stakeholders expected to be involved in the future.