Fresh fu­ture likely for desert lodge

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

A unique and iconic Wim­mera en­vi­ron­men­tal at­trac­tion near Nhill ap­pears set to re­tain its role as a tourist re­sort and wildlife sanc­tu­ary

Prospec­tive buy­ers of Lit­tle Desert Na­ture Lodge at Winiam plan to con­tinue to op­er­ate the lodge as an eco-tourism ven­ture, guar­an­tee­ing a legacy es­tab­lished by Wim­pey and Mau­reen Re­ichelt in 1969.

Driscoll, Mcill­ree and Dick­in­son agent prin­ci­pal Gary Driscoll con­firmed cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the sale of the lodge and sanc­tu­ary yes­ter­day.

“All par­ties who have shown in­ter­est in the prop­erty are keen for the lodge to con­tinue to op­er­ate as re­treat ac­com­mo­da­tion with an ad­join­ing na­ture sanc­tu­ary. We have a will­ing buyer and a will­ing seller,” he said.

“The re­al­ity is the lodge and sanc­tu­ary rep­re­sent a unique op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion in a rare nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment only 10 min­utes from the West­ern High­way between Mel­bourne and Ade­laide.”

Not-for-profit Con­ser­va­tion Vol­un­teers Vic­to­ria, CVA, which owns and op­er­ates the lodge, an­nounced ear­lier this year that the busi­ness was for sale.

The group has owned the as­set since 2011 and de­cided to sell it as the re­sult of a re­view that in­di­cated the lodge, as pri­mar­ily a hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness, was out­side core op­er­a­tions.

The lodge sanc­tu­ary is home to rare and en­dan­gered an­i­mals en­demic to Lit­tle Desert and CVA had guar­an­teed the wel­fare of all re­gard­less of sale cir­cum­stances.

CVA has three prop­er­ties bor­der­ing Lit­tle Desert park­land, but is sell­ing only the 117.1-hectare par­cel of land that in­cludes an ac­com­mo­da­tion lodge, op­er­a­tor res­i­dence and fenced­off sanc­tu­ary.

The lodge has ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­i­ties for 120 guests.

Mr Driscoll said the prop­erty had gen­er­ated con­sid­er­able in­ter­est from in and out­side the Wim­mera.

“The in­ter­est was al­ways en­cour­ag­ing. We hope to be able to con­firm more de­tails within the next two weeks,” he said.

Wim­mera De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ralph Kenyon, on hear­ing news of the sale ear­lier this year, de­scribed the lodge as ‘a sleep­ing gi­ant wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered’.

He said at the time re­search had iden­ti­fied eco-tourism as a po­ten­tial growth in­dus­try in the re­gion and the Lit­tle Desert and its at­tractions were an in­te­gral part of the pic­ture.

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