The Goolwa Wharf precinct is set to undergo a historic $7.5 million upgrade, following the allocation of funds for the project by the federal and state governments and Alexandrina Council.
The anticipated redevelopment of the site will upgrade essential infrastructure and further develop the wharf as an attractive tourist destination.
As part of the project, the federal government has committed $3.75 million from the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF), with Senator for South Australia Andrew McLachlan visiting Goolwa to announce the project.
"Securing grant funding of $3.75 million is a significant win for Alexandrina Council, Member for Finniss David Basham, the Goolwa community and the southern Fleurieu Peninsula," Mr McLachlan said.
"To ensure that tourism remains a strong contributor to the region's economy, our government has recognised the opportunity to invest in major upgrades for the Goolwa Wharf precinct.
"The precinct is already a significant driver of economic and tourism activity in the Fleurieu region and this funding will only improve access and the existing amenities to create a state-of-the-art facility."
The state government has committed a further $1.25 million for the project, with Alexandrina Council to contribute $2.5 million.
Upgrades of the Goolwa Wharf precinct will include the establishment of a new café, the modernisation of a variety of facilities and an extension of the current car park; providing for greater visitor numbers and improving accessibility.
Mr McLachlan said the work would create a variety of employment opportunities for the local community as well as drive tourism.
"The Fleurieu Peninsula is the second most visited region in South Australia, and we recognise it is more important than ever before to deliver real, needs-based funding that will continue to boost economic and tourism activity," Mr McLachlan said.
Alexandrina Mayor Keith Parkes welcomed the government funding contributions and recognised the strong community support received for the project over many years of planning and advocacy.
"The Goolwa Wharf Precinct Revitalisation Project has been long-awaited by the Alexandrina community," Mr Parkes said.
"This outstanding collaboration from all levels of government, combined with other major grant-funded projects such as the Mount Compass Recreation Park and Strathalbyn Town Centre Revitalisation Project, will build a high level of confidence within the entire Alexandrina region, demonstrating that we are 'open for business' and that we are a great place to live, work and play.
"We are thrilled with the projected economic and employment benefits during the two to three year construction period, as well as the generation of on-going jobs in the region.
"We also know the project will bring substantial social benefits to the community who enjoy what the precinct has, and will have, to offer into the future. It couldn't have come at a better time for our community, as we look to recover from the impacts of COVID-19."
Member for Finniss David Basham who has been advocating for the project since his 2018 election said he was thrilled.
"This is a tremendous outcome for the entire region. The implementation of modern concepts and smart technology to such an important part of our heritage and history will deliver a great precinct and tourism attraction with much to offer visitors," said Mr Basham.
"This is a vital investment in the future of Goolwa, and very welcome news for local businesses which rely on tourism."
Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie also welcomed the funding announcement.
"I have been advocating for this $7.5 million project and writing letters of support for Alexandrina Council's grant applications for a number of years now, so I am delighted that our community's persistence has finally paid off," Ms Sharkie said.
"The wharf precinct is a historically significant site for South Australia and a popular tourism drawcard and the area has been in urgent need of restoration and upgrading for some time.
"Given that Alexandrina Council has been a Commonwealth drought-declared area and the wider region has been hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions, investing in this wharf project will bring much-needed economic revitalisation to this regional tourism hub."
Priority infrastructure upgrades to be delivered as part of the project include:
- Goolwa Wharf Shed and Wharf Upgrade/Replacement - to include improved food offering and volunteer facilities as well as an interpretive and visitor centre
- Signal Point Regional Art and Cultural Centre - roof renewal, air conditioning and improved accessibility providing a significantly enhanced art gallery and event space
- Open air function space, shared paths, communal public areas and car park extension - open space for large communal festivals and events, off road shared paths for safe pedestrian access and improved access for large vehicles - touring buses, caravans and trailers
- Wayfinding and WiFi - to meet visitor demands and expectations for high quality and smart technology.
Alexandrina Chief Executive Officer Glenn Rappensberg said the project had enormous potential.
"This much anticipated investment will elevate and grow the precinct into a must-visit "hero destination" for local, interstate and international visitors, showcasing and capitalising on the confluence of environmental, Indigenous and European cultural heritage values that make our region so very special and unique," Mr Rappensberg said.
"It will leave a lasting legacy that we can be proud of."
Alexandrina Council were also successful in Building Better Regions Fund Round 3 for $25,000 of matched funding towards the complementary Ngoppen Ngarrindjeri Ruwe (Walking Ngarrindjeri Land) Project to develop a Ngarrindjeri-led Cultural Tourism Plan for the Goolwa Wharf Precinct.
The plan will be used to seek further funding sources for initiatives that will increase Ngarrindjeri cultural presence at the Precinct into the future.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the economic health and prosperity of rural regions was an important part of the shift to recovery from the recent impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19.
"This is why the state government is committed to supporting our regional communities as they look for opportunities to strengthen and grow," said Mr Whetstone.
"The historic wharf precinct is not only unique to South Australia but also recognised as a place of national significance, being one of only two places in the world where visitors can still link a journey between a steam train and a steam powered paddleboat.
"This is not only a project that looks at celebrating the town's past but also embracing its future.
"This revitalisation project, I believe, provides a wonderful launch pad to create jobs, build the local economy and capitalize on the Fleurieu Region's flourishing tourism industry."