Fresh future likely for desert lodge
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.