THE Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail (BCDT) Master Plan was adopted at last week’s council meeting, while council also announced the $1.2m purchase of land at 300 Graham Street, Wonthaggi for the trail.

The land will be used to create an interactive sound and light ‘Gondwana Garden’ to boost post-pandemic tourism.

The BCDT project proposes diverse, creative experiences at six sites in San Remo, Kilcunda, Wonthaggi, Eagles Nest, The Caves and Inverloch.

It’s estimated to cost $20m to complete the trail, multimedia, sound and light experience and for the Inverloch Museum Discovery Centre.

Project funding was allocated in council’s Long-Term Financial Plan.

The masterplan was developed over the past 12 months and council had allocated $250,000 in its 2020-21 budget to complete it.

The adoption of the master plan has enabled the next phase of detail design to occur, following the securing of external funding.

Bass Coast is one of the most significant places in Australia for understanding dinosaur fossils.

For the past 40 years, the scientific community of local scientists, prospectors, researchers and more than 700 volunteers have worked on-site prospecting and excavating areas of the coastline.

Examples of the trail include:

Wonthaggi, Gondwana Gardens: Large sculptural forms and a prehistoric planting palette showcasing the uniqueness of vegetation from 125 million years ago, and the landscape in which polar dinosaurs once inhabited.

Inverloch, Wyeth-McNamara Park: This site is a hero experience and provides an opportunity to be supported by Museum and Cultural Centre.

Kilcunda foreshore: Proposed village green integrated with skate and play with creative elements integrated and embedded within planned upgrade of infrastructure.

San Remo, Lions Park: A hero experience site celebrating the variety of dinosaurs discovered along the Bass Coast.

At the July 2021 council meeting, an application to be lodged with Regional Development Victoria seeking funding of $500,000 for the creative design phase of the project was supported.

The outcome of this application is expected be known late this month.

Public feedback

Community engagement occurred in-person and online during May and August this year.

A series of changes were made to the masterplan following the engagement process, including:

• Significant alterations at the Kilcunda site, including the introduction of an open lawn concept integrating skate and play, introducing a renewed barbecue area and re-alignment of the car park, creating a civic foreshore precinct.

• Expanding on the idea of a shuttle bus as a key experience of the trail to help address parking issues at smaller sites and encourage less reliance on car access.

• Integrating and boosting the educational outcomes at the San Remo site.

• Enhancing scientific accuracy of information and better representing local dinosaur species.

Council expects to begin further planning and community engagement for the Gondwana Garden in the first half of 2022.