KNOWN by locals and visitors as a stunning South Gippsland location, Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve has just become an even more enjoyable location to visit, thanks to the newly constructed facilities which were officially opened last Thursday by Deputy Premier, Member for South Gippsland and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan.
Present at the official opening were representatives of Parks Victoria including South Gippsland District Manager Graeme Baxter, Cr. Mohya Davies, South Gippsland Shire senior staff, Destination Gippsland CEO Terry Robinson, members of the Friends of Agnes Falls and members of the local community.
“The Victorian Coalition Government has invested $195,000 to upgrade the new facilities at Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve in Gippsland, which is home to a spectacular waterfall that cascades over a series of rocks over a 59 metre drop,” he said.
At 59 metres, Agnes Falls are reputedly the highest single span falls in Victoria.
“Tourists and locals already know that Agnes Falls is a spectacular place for a picnic or short walk, and the upgraded facilities will help to attract more visitors to this wonderful tourist attraction.
The investment, via the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority from the State Government’s Regional Growth Fund, has enabled the construction of a new toilet block, picnic settings and a picnic rotunda and updated signage. The unisex toilet block, which is handily located adjacent to the carpark, has two cubicles, one of which is wheelchair friendly, and features a hand basin boasting a beautiful view over the trees towards the river below.
“These facilities will no doubt have a positive effect in helping to enhance the reputation of this beautiful natural environment,” said Mr Robinson.
“The Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve appeals to a great many types of visitors and it is fitting that this world class environment now has new facilities to match – adding to the appeal,” he said.
“The new facilities will greatly enhance this special part of the world, attracting more visitors to the park and delivering benefits to our regional economy,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan acknowledged the work of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, South Gippsland Shire Council, Parks Victoria and the Friends of Agnes Falls, and reserved particular praise for the Friends of Agnes Falls’ Kathy Whelan.
“Kathy is a wonderful ambassador for Agnes Falls and her passion for the place is infectious,” he said.
“An impact study was done to see if these improvements would make the Reserve more of a drawcard and they certainly will – and it won’t end there,” Kathy said.
Extremely pleased with the outcome, Kathy thanked the many individuals and organisations for their contribution to the project, including Parks Victoria, the Shire of South Gippsland, Corrections Victoria, fellow members of the Friends of Agnes Falls Group and also expressed gratitude to Gippsland Regional Development CEO, Mary Aldred for facilitating the partnership between Parks Victoria and Corrections Victoria.
A new site plan provided by Parks Victoria was shown at the official opening, providing an indication of further works which are on the drawing board and will be subject to funding. These include extensions to the carpark, improved drainage, improved landscaping, new entry path and access steps, and a new two metre wide path realigned through the picnic area.
“The pièce de résistance will be when the cantilever viewing platform is constructed at the gorge which will allow visitors to go out four or five metres to experience that 59 metre drop,” Kathy said.
The National Member for Eastern Victoria RegionDanny O’Brien also acknowledged the recently formed partnership with Corrections Victoria.
The Wulgunggo Ngalo Learning Place, a culturally appropriate community corrections centre for Koori men, will continue to be involved in the ongoing maintenance of the local tourism site for at least the next six months.
“This project really shows environmental partnerships in action and demonstrates the many benefits of using local knowledge and developing relationships beyond the park boundary,” Mr O’Brien said.
Mr Ryan acknowledged that this work has been done in a way which pays justice to the surroundings and brings people to it in a way in which they can enjoy and respect this beautiful area.