DERRINALLUM was celebrating this week with the first sod turned on the town’s proposed new visitor centre at Mount Elephant.
After 16 years of planning, work on the $700,000 centre is expected to get under way next week.
Mount Elephant Community Management member Lesley Brown said MKM Constructions of Ballarat had been contracted to build the visitor centre, which will be located at the base of the mount in the ballast pit area on the north side.
“An extensive tender process has already been conducted with interest shown from builders from across the region,” she said.
“Pleasingly, several local tradespeople have been engaged to work on the building.”
Mrs Brown said MKM Constructions had demonstrated an ability to work within the committee’s budget at a high standard and to to meet timelines.
Designed by Jakob Kelly Architect of Hamilton, the centre will be a stand-alone sustainable building featuring a modern design with ‘off grid’ features such as solar panelling and water tanks.
Breaking away from the traditional four-walled design of such a facility, the planned information centre boasts two separate wings in a modern design.
The walls will be made of rammed earth, some of which will come from the mount itself, and have a thick roof structure in black tones.
The centre will include two main display areas, one which can also double as a classroom.
A kitchen area, storage room, office and toilet facilities are also included.
Mrs Brown said the centre would complement and support a range of activities at the mount including visitor information, conferences, school groups and workshops.
The project’s budget of almost $700,000 is made up of $400,000 from the Jack and Millie Borbidge Fund, $150,000 from the State Government, $50,000 from the Corangamite Shire Council, $24,500 from the MECM along with several smaller funding allocations.
The project first began when the community agreed to buy the mount on a 50/50 basis with Trust for Nature.
“We always had a visitor centre in mind, and after countless meetings we’re finally getting there,” Mrs Brown said.