Leading business law firm, Hall & Wilcox, has advised a Victorian ecotourism initiative, which is set to be a landmark on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road after being granted council approval and government funding.
The attraction will be based on a spectacular 20 hectare property near Apollo Bay and be operated by the non-profit Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC). The venture will provide a unique sanctuary for native flora and fauna and allow “visitors to experience the unique environment of the Otways up-close and predator-free”, according to CEC.
The project has been several years in the making, according to Matthew Bridges, special counsel at Hall & Wilcox, who is also a member of CEC’s advisory board. Hall & Wilcox has partnered with CEC on a pro-bono basis since 2012.
Mr Bridges said Hall & Wilcox has provided ongoing support to CEC as the project has evolved. “We’ve really enjoyed working with CEC and helping them to navigate a course to bring their exciting vision to fruition. It has also been great to introduce CEC to members of our network who have since become closely involved in the project”. “It’s a special project to be involved with – CEC is really well placed to deliver an outstanding tourism experience on the Great Ocean Road. We are looking forward to continuing to work with the CEC team as the project really starts to ramp up in the coming months.”
Hall & Wilcox has also provided pro bono legal support to CEC on a number of other projects over the years including:
- the establishment of a joint venture agreement with a local craft brewery (Prickly Moses) under which ‘Spotted Ale’ beer is produced and profits from sales of the beer are returned to CEC; and
- the acquisition of a parcel of farming land at Cape Otway which was funded by a grant from The R E Ross Trust and donations received from a public fundraising campaign.
Mr Bridges said the firm took great satisfaction in the CEC gaining approval for the ecotourism project. “We find our work with the CEC incredibly rewarding.
“The development is going to be a big thing for Apollo Bay. The project has attracted great community support, as well as government interest and support at all levels. It’s going to create local jobs, provide a unique tourism experience on the Great Ocean Road and generate funds to support CEC’s leading conservation and research work in the Otways region.”
About the Conservation Ecology Centre
The Conservation Ecology Centre is a nationally registered non-profit conservation and ecological research organisation dedicated to conserving and understanding the flora and fauna of the Otways. Focus areas include threatened species research across public and private land and restoring ecosystem resilience through improved land management.
CEC also established the Great Ocean Ecolodge in 2004 which operates as a social enterprise to support CEC’s work in conservation. The Ecolodge has maintained the highest level of certification from Ecotourism Australia since this time and has earned significant recognition including being named as one of the 25 best ecolodges in the world by National Geographic Traveller. The organisation was awarded the Prime Minister’s Environmental Award in 2005 and the Australian Geographic Society Conservation Award in 2007.