By Sam Forbes
Imagine mines as Gippsland’s world class destination. That’s what a voluntary community movement with a project team of passionate locals is asking Gippslanders to consider.
When it comes to Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation, a group called Great Latrobe Park has a new collective mind on the subject. The team has sketched a concept that maps how to move from pits to paradise, where the repurposed Latrobe Valley open cuts and surrounding areas become treasured assets.
According to the President of Great Latrobe Park Inc, Nina Burke, the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland need a new economic base as the brown coal mining industry closes down.
“As community people who have been engaged in all manner of community affairs over a 30 year period, we see Gippsland requires building blocks to move into the future,” Ms Burke said.
“At the time of the Hazelwood mine closure, there were no transformative ideas for rehabilitation of the mines beyond just ‘fill them up with water and walk away’.
Great Latrobe Park is looking for “mine repurposing that draws people into attractive and useful spaces, not sterile wastelands.”
“Think mines repurposed as lakes, forests, wetlands and parks, linked by pathways that encourage creative utilisation of the vast space.”
In addition to its immense visual attraction, the Great Latrobe Park team has listed a number of complementary outcomes of this concept:
- Creates the building blocks we need for a new economy
- Promotes creative options to transform the Latrobe Valley
- Creates opportunities for jobs and employment
- Ability to heal our shattered landscapes
- Address the health & wellbeing of Gippslanders
- Forests can moderate climate and trees can make rain
Although unique in Australia, the repurposing of large industrial sites has been successful overseas, including the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK (photo below) which attracts one million visitors a year, transforming the economy of southwest England.
Nina says that contributing a positive vision of the future makes her “excited, energized and creative.”
“I am determined to spread the vision of the Great Latrobe Park far and wide so people can grasp it, drive it and support it, and understand that this vision has been generated from the heart of community for the benefit of all Gippslanders”.
The Park that would span thousands of hectares has the potential to generate substantial tourism. It could include biodomes, forests, botanic gardens, a museum, an arboretum, lakes and wetlands, animal sanctuaries, grasslands and parklands.
It would have spaces for sailing, cycling, hiking and camping. We could even see the Great Latrobe Marathon, hot air ballooning and mountain bike racing.
You can find out more about the Great Latrobe Park ideas for the future by visiting the website: greatlatrobepark.org.au