State government seeks interest to build Western Kangaroo Island Visitor Hub

Pristine and undisturbed views from the clifftops on the Wilderness Trail in Flinders Chase National Park. Image: Reimage KI website
Pristine and undisturbed views from the clifftops on the Wilderness Trail in Flinders Chase National Park. Image: Reimage KI website

Commercial, community, and research sector organisations are invited to get involved in rebuilding the visitor centre at the entrance to Flinders Chase National Park.

The $10 million Western KI Parks Visitor Hub will operate as the major visitor service centre for parks on western KI, providing parks information, orientation, and ticketing/bookings for these parks and their key attractions.

The state government says it is "looking to explore partnership opportunities with new organisations to maximise visitor and research offerings" at the new western KI visitor centre.

The location of the new precinct was unveiled earlier this year, as part of the state government's $52 million investment in rebuilding essential parks infrastructure to support and rejuvenate KI's visitor economy.

The old visitor centre and much of the park infrastructure was wiped out in the bushfire of January 3, 2020.

A new Flinders Chase National Park visitor centre will be rebuilt on the land once owned by Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat just outside the current entrance to the park.

The state government this week also announced that architectural firm Troppo are the contractors for the Western KI hub project.

Troppo was also involved in the controversial Australian Walking Company proposal to building "sleeping pod" accommodation on headlands within the national park.

National Parks and Wildlife Service executive director Mike Williams said the new precinct would result in a world-class, facility that enhanced visitor experiences on the island's western end.

"The new $10 million hub is a key element of the rejuvenation of the tourism industry and rebuilding of visitor infrastructure essential for the economic, social, and environmental recovery of the island and its community," Mr Williams said.

"Proposals and ideas that explore the potential for further experience and service delivery in key locations across the network of KI parks are also invited, for example at Kelly Hill Caves Conservation Park or Cape Willoughby.

"The KI tourism industry contributes around $140 million annually to the regional economy.

"In June last year the SA Government announced up to $52 million of works to rebuild and re-imagine Kangaroo Island's nature-based tourism economy and the Western Visitor Hub is very much in keeping with this objective.

"The new hub will allow us to create a world-class visitor experience for these western KI parks and supports a conservation-first approach to visitor experiences and interactions with parks."

To fully explore the potential for a range of visitor services to be delivered at the visitor hub, registration of interests (ROI) are now invited from commercial, community, and research sector organisations.

Ideas may include:

  • Retail and hospitality offerings
  • Transportation solutions - i.e. electric shuttle, ebike, scooter hire
  • 'Scientist-in-residence' programs and 'Living lab' education/research centre
  • Dynamic and innovative interpretation experiences
  • Accommodation provision and/or bookings
  • Tour and guided experiences
  • Flexible events/exhibition/functions space

The University of Adelaide, who had co-located facilities at the former Flinders Chase Visitor Centre, will also contribute to a partnership in the design, construction and occupancy of the building.

Mr Williams said he was pleased to announce architectural firm Troppo were the successful contractors for the precinct.

"Troppo are nationally and internationally recognised as specialists in environmentally friendly design and are one of Australia's most awarded architecture firms," he said.