Nature Parks’ Major Projects Manager Damian Prendergast chats with Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford and Labor candidate for Bass Jordan Crugnale at the launch of the $58 million Phillip Island Nature Parks visitors’ centre last Thursday

THE State Government has marked the commencement of works on the $58 million new visitor centre for Phillip Island’s much-loved Penguin Parade, which is projected to boost the local economy and tourism in Victoria generally with the creation of 620 new jobs plus an estimated 200 jobs on-site during construction.
The Labor Government invested $48.2 million in the development through the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which is designed to boost regional tourism and create new jobs across Victoria.
Together with a contribution of $10 million from Phillip Island Nature Parks, it makes it one of the biggest projects ever developed on the Island.
“Phillip Island’s iconic Penguin Parade is one of Australia’s most popular wildlife destinations attracting more than 1.4 million visitors last year alone. Through our investment we’re making it even more attractive for all to enjoy,” said Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford as she ceremonially turned the first sod last Thursday.
Through the Government’s ‘Local Jobs First’ policy, the project will be required to use at least 89 per cent local content, and maximise the use of local steel products made from locally milled steel.
It is also subject to the Major Projects Skills Guarantee which will see apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets make up at least 10 per cent of total labour hours.
“Importantly, this is all about local jobs and the new visitor centre will provide an even better experience for the thousands of visitors who come to Phillip Island Nature Park each month,” said Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll.
The redevelopment of the Penguin Parade will ensure Victoria remains at the forefront of tourism, with forecast visitation to the park to increase by up to 20 percent over the next ten years.
The new facility has been designed to improve the visitor experience, and provide important environmental benefits for the island’s penguin colonies.
“The new visitor’s centre will provide important environmental benefits – we’re restoring 6.7 extra hectares of penguin habitat and ensuring the park’s world-leading research can continue,” Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
The new centre will include a restaurant and cafe, an education centre, theatrette, interpretation areas and special tour lounges.  It will be designed to reduce congestion by enabling multiple entrance points to the arrivals hall.
A new car park will be established closer to the entry of the visitor centre, with an increased capacity of up to 770 cars and 80 buses, located away from the penguin parade habitat.
The redevelopment of the premium viewing area will be expanded with a sheltered viewing area and increased capacity of up to 350 visitors (up from 190 visitors).
“Victoria’s little penguins are famous on the world stage and we want to ensure their colonies remain safe while also providing a unique nature based tourism experience for our local and global visitors,” said Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing.
“This is the redevelopment Phillip Island Nature Park deserves. It’s great news for jobs and our tourism industry,” she said.
Statements by three Ministers and local MP Harriet Shing are testament to the all-of-government support for this wonderful attraction and Phillip Island as a visitor destination.