The former backpackers in South Warrnambool has undergone a major transformation to become a school camp which is already bringing flow-on benefits to the city.
While catering primarily for schools, it is also helping to ease the accommodation shortage for visitors on weekends.
Six families have pooled their resources to purchase the property and transform it into a school camp - something they say is "long overdue" for Warrnambool.
Teachers Dave Atkinson and Ben Logan have 15 years' experience in the classroom, and are now putting those skills into running the camp.
"The phone's been busy ever since we've opened the doors," Mr Logan said.
Schools from Ballarat, Edenhope, Horsham, Hamilton, Torquay and Melbourne have already booked in as well as Warrnambool schools. Their first campers from Portland last week filled the 94-bed facility to capacity.
Mr Atkinson said it was through an association with the former Deakin University Sharks footy club and Woodford Primary School that the idea of the school camp gained momentum.
He said the idea of having a camp in Warrnambool had been spoken about for as long as he could remember. And now Warra Gnan, meaning waterhole on the Merri, has finally opened.
"The building was ready-made for a school camp, it just needed a full renovation," he said.
So with the help of tradies and seven months of spending weekends and "every spare minute" working on it, the property has been revamped with a new commercial kitchen, bathroom upgrades and new plaster and paint. "Everybody who has walked through the door has said it looks fantastic," Mr Atkinson said.
"It's nice to know our blood, sweat and tears has made this place look good."
The camp brings spin-off benefits for Warrnambool with kids making use of the lawn bowls, tennis, mini-golf, Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and the surf school.
"We want to bring kids into Warrnambool, give them a splash of Warrnambool and then they'll want to come back with mum and dad," Mr Atkinson said.
As registered teachers, Mr Atkinson said between himself and Mr Logan they had been on numerous school camps. "We've brought the best of what we've seen," he said.
While they are primarily a school camp, sporting organisations have booked it for weekend tournaments.
"The shortage of accommodation in Warrnambool has been fairly well advertised and we are somewhat helping to solve that issue when we can," Mr Atkinson said. "Obviously we want to have schools in first."
Mr Atkinson said a few schools had called up and asked where the camp was located. He said they had been able to refer to the Oddball movie. "We're there. We're at the front gate of Middle Island," he said.
"We can surf, and we can canoe and we can go for a walk and check out the rockpools and play beach games...there's just too much stuff to do in the three days they're here," Mr Logan said.
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