People may be familiar with the Wimmera Mallee region, with stories of people and country painted on towering silos across the land. Located in regional Victoria, the Wimmera Mallee is often promoted as the agricultural and outback heart of Victoria. Located less than a days drive from Melbourne or Adelaide, the towns and communities are keen to share Aboriginal culture, heritage, art, local produce and country hospitality, and the authentic back country Victorian beauty full of wetlands, ancient lakes and inland sand dunes.
To help revitalise tourism across the region by encouraging people to stop and stay and improving amenity for local people, Regional Tourism Organisation Wimmera Mallee Tourism commissioned the development of a Town and Tourism Strategy. TRC partnered with landscaping and urban design specialists BC (Brave and Curious) for this project, covering 16 towns and 24 tourist parks across the region.
Through a series of site visits, regional consultation and demand analysis, TRC and BC have delivered a comprehensive set of recommended programs and projects for the identified places across the Wimmera Mallee.. This includes the importance of:
- Recognising that making towns better places to live will also make them more attractive for visitors
- Establishing a Wimmera Mallee look and feel and consistency of visitor facing services across the region while reinforcing the individual character and attractions of individual towns
- Developing and promoting the regional themes of the authentic outback, Aboriginal culture, the silo art trail and the spectacular Victorian back country landscapes.
- Building on existing community initiatives to bolster the region as a vibrant place for local people with opportunities and a good quality of life offered, particularly post COVID-19 impacts
- Recommending projects for quick and easy wins which can attract immediate investment such as innovative and community driven solutions for revitalising vacant shop fronts, providing barista training for city folk to enjoy a great coffee in the country, and simple landscape improvements
- Reinforcing the network of driving tours with easy to use and access services along the journey
- Town improvements that are attractive to visitors and improve community liveability such as safe traffic zones and walking areas, landscaping, orientation and way-finding signage, community and visitor centres and hubs
- Increased shade tree planting to mitigate increasing temperatures as a result of climate change.
The Wimmera Mallee is already a popular region with domestic self-drive visitors, usually traversing from South Australia through to Victoria. With this plan, post COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Wimmera Mallee is well placed to offer easy to access overnight breaks featuring country hospitality in Victoria’s outback.
The next phase will involve the conceptual design and layouts required for the future of the towns and tourist parks.