A former Victorian coal mine could become a world-class eco-tourism destination under a $150m scheme expected to create 300 jobs and generate billions in tourism revenue.
The proposal from UK charity Eden and mining giant Alcoa centres on a former mine at Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road, and is based on a ‘global garden’ in the similarly picturesque region of Cornwall, England which has generated $3.7 billion and welcomed more than 20 million visitors since it opened in 2001.
Set within Anglesea Heath, the plan looks to transform an area within the former coal mine into a destination offering “immersive education and experiences which celebrate the local ecology and tell a story of sustainability”.
Eden says the concept looks to complement the region’s environmental and cultural attributes, including the scenic Great Ocean Road and the Great Otway National Park, which the charity describes as one of the richest and most bio-diverse areas in the state.
David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International Limited, said: “We’re incredibly excited to work together with the community on this concept, which could bring environmental, social and economic regeneration to Anglesea and the wider region, while re-imagining what’s possible within Australian mine rehabilitation sites.
“We’ve envisioned a place of extraordinary experiences, fusing science and wonder to immerse visitors in the extreme elements – fire, air, earth and water – which have shaped the surf coast region and its inhabitants for millennia, creating a must-see prelude for a journey on the Great Ocean Road.
“This concept will be a global exemplar of sustainability and environmental excellence.”
Harland says the charity will draw on local inspiration as well as its experience in Cornwall to ensure the destination provides a year-round positive impact for the community.
“It’s our goal to speak with as many people as we can over the coming weeks to energise and inspire them to help us develop the ideas for what could be their Eden Project in Anglesea,” he said.
Community consultation on the concept will be invited at ‘drop-in’ sessions in the town’s community centre over the next two weeks.
Initial projections show a world-class eco-tourism attraction of this type will support at least 300 full-time jobs and attract thousands of new visitors to Anglesea.
The concept is estimated to cost approximately $150 million and following planning consent, is expected to be complete within 18-24 months.
John Osborne, director of asset planning and management of Alcoa, said: “Alcoa is tremendously proud to work with our colleagues from Eden who are recognised globally for creating landmark eco-tourism facilities and experiences.
“This exciting concept brings to life the guiding principles Alcoa developed in partnership with the Anglesea community in 2016 to shape the transformation of the former mine site.
“It presents an outstanding opportunity to showcase the site’s unique natural values while making a significant and lasting contribution to the region for generations to come.”