A project which promised to bring millions of dollars into the region in jobs, growth and tourism income will step up their plans to apply for government and regional grassroots support in the next six months.
Wildlife Art Museum of Australia had a vision to create a nature, arts and learning focused centre in between Halls Gap and Pomonal.
Company secretary Angela Turrell said WAMA had a clear path forward after visitor numbers and an artist strategy were confirmed from a feasibility study.
“These were the things that were being questioned by government,” she said.
“Now we are working really closely with Regional Development Victoria and from this study we are aiming to have a number of different work streams finished by mid year so we can submit a funding application to government.”
A 16 hectare block of land opposite the Halls Gap zoo was designated towards the WAMA project.
The plans included a gallery of wildlife art, restored bushland, a wetlands and botanical garden site, a designated area for endangered wildlife and a cafe` and function facilities.
“The next six months will be all about getting local businesses, organisations, groups and individuals aware of what WAMA is, what it will bring to the region and how they can become advocates,” Ms Turrell said.
“We need local government support saying yes this is a great idea, it meets all the hurdles and it is a priority.
“From there we will be able to go into the next round of state government funding where we hope to get $10 million.”
An official board and team of 100 volunteers were behind the project and hoped to begin construction by 2018-19.
“This region has national experts in flora and fauna and the more I am here, the more I am recognising the depth of talent in this region,” Ms Turrell said.
Northern Grampians Shire Council chief executive Michael Bailey said council had worked closely with WAMA in the last two years to try to bring the project to life.
“The project will undoubtedly be positive for the region and the work currently being undertaken by RAM consulting will paint a very clear picture of the feasibility of the project, providing further opportunity to look at funding models going forward,” he said.