Conservation Ecology Centre
‘Wildlife Wonders’ is a not-for-profit project being delivered by the Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC) as an immersive nature walk enabling visitors to experience the flora and fauna of the Otways.
Located within a 19 hectare property on the Great Ocean Road, some 6kms from Apollo Bay, Wildlife Wonders guided site tours take visitors through the restored habitat along an 850m walking track comprising both boardwalk and track. Associated infrastructure, including a visitor arrivals centre (ticketing desk, shop, theatrette, refreshments and toilets), car parking; and a cat and fox proof fencing to ensure a quality, sustainable experience.
The concept behind the masterplan is to create a major scientific research facility which also combines a viable eco-tourism as a destination for visitors to the region.
The non-profit CEC will invest all surplus generated by this venture into conservation of the Otways’ ecosystems. Their business model will provide a reliable and sustainable funding stream that will increase capacity to directly employ qualified ecologists to undertake conservation projects. Awarded a Silver Medal at the 2021 Victorian Tourism Awards, the project has been recognised for its significant addition to Victoria’ tourism offering and the visitor economy of the Great Ocean Road.
The site itself presented several challenges from a design and planning perspective, including erosion, bushfire, coastal landscape, and flora and fauna considerations. Our Planning team coordinated an extensive consultant team to address each challenge and obtain the planning approvals for the project.
A series of curved suspended boardwalks have been constructed as well as designated ‘rest stops’ to enable visitors to take in the dramatic views.
As part of the Stage 1 works our Landscape team designed an accessible ‘Discovery Trail’’ which winds through a steep gully on the site, allowing visitors to safely experience the remnant woodland and undertake guided tours by the Wildlife Wonders staff.
We have also provided ongoing input into the design and layout of the future visitor centre which will be the architectural focal point of the site.