Coal Creek call

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Coal Creek call

MORE government funding and interactive attractions would inject new life into Coal Creek Community Park and Museum at Korumburra and boost visitor numbers to reduce the tourist attraction’s drain on South Gippsland ratepayers.

South Gippsland Shire Council will spend $656,422 on the park this financial year, including $67,000 on replacing the atrium at the information centre located within the park entrance.

Council’s adopted 2016/17 budget for Coal Creek Community Park and Museum is $271,596 in revenue and $656,422 in expenditure, resulting in a net cost of $384,826.  Revenue is derived from the Education program, Sales, Grants and Donations.  Expenditure consists of operational, maintenance and capital expenditure.

Friends of Coal Creek president Syd Whyte has called on State and Federal governments to invest more in the village and in turn create spin-offs to the region’s tourism sector.

“They are going to pour millions into the Long Jetty…They would be better off putting $2 million into Coal Creek because it involves a lot more people in the district and brings more people,” he said.

“There is room for improvement (at Coal Creek). The State and Federal governments could give some more funds to make it happen.”

However council has advised The Star it does not have any current projects to provide new attractions at Coal Creek, however if this became a priority, Council would investigate Grant funded opportunities.

Mr Whyte’s comments come as council officers finalise an end of financial year report about Coal Creek to be presented to council to decide the next step in the future of the community park and museum that replicates a nineteenth century coal mining village.

He urged council to take a leaf out of the book of Ballarat’s famed Sovereign Hill heritage park and “activate” the park with interactive attractions.

Mr Whyte suggested reopening the coal mine and timber mill, returning horse and cart rides, and even an attraction linked to the region’s dairy history.

“If they can open the other mine at Wonthaggi, surely they can open the one here,” he said.

Mr Whyte also believes council should do away with free entry to the park or make a stronger push for gold coin donations from the public to lift the park’s income.

He believed council’s ability to run attractions at the park was limited by the threat of being sued should someone be hurt.

“It’s a pity the mill is not operating. The shire does not want to do anything that is dangerous. Coming under council jurisdiction, you are half shod to do the job. You are restricted by litigation,” Mr Whyte said.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said Coal Creek was an icon of South Gippsland.

“I’m very conscious the shire has had challenges over the years with its ongoing funding. If a clear plan to improve the facilities and attractions was put forward to help make Coal Creek more sustainable in the long-run and it needed capital funding from the State Government, then I’d be happy to lobby for the necessary funds,” he said.

A spokesman for Victorian Regional Development Jaala Pulford said the State Government would discuss any formal funding applications from the friends group.

McMillan MP Russell Broadbent said improvements to Coal Creek would be a welcome addition in the local community.

“The first round of the Building Better Regions Fund – which will focus on projects in regional, rural and remote areas – will open towards the end of 2016. The fund replaces the National Stronger Regions Fund,” he said.

“Organisations seeking funding will lodge written submissions to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.”

 

At work: Friends of Coal Creek president Syd Whyte (left) and Geoff Wyatt at work at the Coal Creek Community Park and Museum, Korumburra.

At work: Friends of Coal Creek president Syd Whyte (left) and Geoff Wyatt at work at the Coal Creek Community Park and Museum, Korumburra.

Council eyes Coal

Creek review

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has not considered a formal report about Coal Creek since August 2015 when it voted to undertake a raft of changes that were to save $250,000 over three years.

Savings included leasing the Pig and Whistle Hotel (saving $40,000 a year), improving the education program (saving $10,000 a year) and reducing administration costs (saving up to $15,000 a year).

Income was mooted to be increased via visitors hiring tour guide tablets (up to $10,000 a year) and increasing revenue from the General Store (no estimate given by council).

The August 2015 report opposed re-introducing an entrance fee as “this would be contrary to local community expectation and require a number of changes to signage and advertising campaigns. Changes to the park operations will provide greater encouragement for gold coin donation.”

The same report said council had invested approximately $499,000pa on average over the last four years, which has been estimated to benefit the economy to the tune of $1.4 million through more visitors.

The Star asked council’s director of development services Bryan Sword for an update about the success of those initiatives. He said that information could be revealed at the August council meeting, when council receives an updated report.

Council has been urged in the past to consider opening a school camp at the park, but this proposal has not advanced.

Friends of Coal Creek president Syd Whyte welcomed the tablet tour guide initiative as a way of giving visitors more.

He called for council to consider engaging Work for the Dole participants or people on community based orders to undertake maintenance at the park, to lessen volunteers’ workloads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on Aug 2 2016. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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