A volcanic information centre is set to get under construction at Mount Elephant in the next few months thanks to a $150,000 cash injection this week.
Member for Polwarth Terry Mulder announced the funding on Thursday afternoon, giving a total budget of nearly $700,000 for the project.
Mt Elephant Management Committee president Geoff Henderson hailed the funding as “fantastic news”.
“We’ve been chasing this funding for the last eight years, so to finally have it secured is great.
“We’re working with the Corangamite Shire to gain the final approvals and permits needed to get the project going and hope to turn the first sod early next year at the latest.”
Mr Henderson said the Mount Elephant Management Committee had been working towards the development of an information centre at the base of the mount for about 12 years.
Expected to measure 200 square metres, the centre will include information about district volcanics, interactive models and interpretative information along with picnic facilities and toilets.
“This project is great for the whole district,” Mr Henderson said.
“It will link in with the Kanawinka Geopark concept, so it will be like an eastern gateway to the whole volcanic trail.
“It will entice people travelling from the Great Ocean Road to the Ballarat Gold Fields to make the stop and have a different experience.”
Mr Henderson paid tribute to Lesley Brown, Val Lang and Chris Lang who had worked hard over the last three months to secure the grant.
Mr Mulder said the centre would promote Mt Elephant as a major attraction for the whole region.
“Mount Elephant flaunts 360-degree views across the Western Plains and its bird-watching, hiking and education value attracts many visitors every year,” he said.
“The centre will be built at the base of the mount and will be designed to meet the needs of current and future visitors.
“Improving the amenities will encourage greater participation in recreational activities and help build a stronger, more connected community.
“Local businesses and employment will benefit in the short term during construction and in the long term from increased visitors to the region.”
Mr Mulder said the centre would interpret indigenous, settler and the natural environment of Mount Elephant and the surrounding region.
“The building and landscaping work will use sustainable design principles, reflecting the conservation value of the site,” he said.
The funding is being provided through the State Government’s Regional Growth Fund and adds to a $400,500 contribution from the Jack and Millie Borbidge Fund, $50,000 from the Corangamite Shire, $24,500 from the Mount Elephant Community Management Committee and several smaller funding allocations.