Great Ocean Road ecotourism project receives funding boost

A landmark Great Ocean Road ecotourism project that Hall & Wilcox is advising on has been awarded a $1.5 million grant by the Victorian Government.

The not-for-profit Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC) will create a new nature-based visitor attraction, Wildlife Wonders, on a spectacular 20-hectare property near Apollo Bay. Designed by Brian Massey, art director of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and landscape designer of ‘Hobbiton’ in New Zealand, the venture will provide a sanctuary for native flora and fauna and allow visitors to experience the beauty of the Otways.

The Victorian Government announcement comes off the back of the Commonwealth Government having committed $2 million to the project earlier this year through the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages.

Hall & Wilcox has advised CEC on all legal aspects of the project as it has evolved including tax and structuring advice, finance, property, employment and governance.

Special counsel Matthew Bridges, who is also a member of CEC’s advisory board, said it was gratifying to see the project move one step closer to fruition.

“Set on a stunning property with full ocean views just outside Apollo Bay, Wildlife Wonders will provide a unique experience for domestic and international tourists travelling along the Great Ocean Road, create significant local employment opportunities and in turn support CEC’s ongoing conservation and research work in the Otway region and beyond. It’s a fabulous project for our team to be involved in.” Mr Bridges said.

The venture is expected to create 44 jobs during the construction phase and 35 jobs in ecotourism and environmental conservation once complete. Mr Bridges said CEC was hoping to start building works later this year, with a view to opening in mid-2019.

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