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Four new experiences have been successful in gaining funding under the South Australian Government’s Nature-Based Tourism Co-Investment Fund.

The innovative new tourism initiatives include a new wilderness retreat at Cleland Wildlife Park, 20 new glamping tents and amenities in Dingley Dell Conservation Park, upgrades to 40-year-old accommodation facilities in Belair National Park Holiday Park and new customised mountain bike shuttle vehicles to expand services in the Fox Creek Bike Park within Cudlee Creek Forest.

These projects have all demonstrated local conservation, community and economic benefits and as part of their development, operators will contribute to conservation programs such as restoring habitats, revegetation and rewilding projects.

Escapegoat Adventures

Adelaide Hills-based provider of mountain bike tours and training, Escapegoat Adventures, will use their grant of $48,750 for a $97,500 initiative to improve mountain bike shuttles at Fox Creek Bike Park. They plan to purchase an additional shuttle van and trailer and an off-road buggy to allow internal shuttles within the park. This will also allow them to employ an additional driver and run more tours and shuttle days concurrently.

Owner Ian Fehler said the additional shuttle will allow them to run shuttle services every weekend, which means more customers enjoying what is a great nature-based adventure experience.

'Thanks to this funding, this will greatly increase our capacity, and allow us to diversify by offering more immersive experiences and being able to offer shuttle services where no vehicles can currently go, with our all-terrain buggy. It's a very exciting time for mountain biking at Fox Creek Bike Park and in the Adelaide Hills in general,' Ian said.

The conservation dividend for the project will contribute to priority conservation initiatives within the park, including weed control programs to enhance the habitat for the nationally endangered bassian thrush.

Dingley Dell Glamping and Accommodation

The owners of the Coonawarra Bush Holiday Park will use their grant of $233,000 for a $466,000 project to set up a similar accommodation offering in the Dingley Dell Conservation Park on the outskirts of Port Macdonnell.

Owner Steve Moignard said the funding will go towards up to 20 new glamping tents with full solar power, amenities and shower facilities providing a unique tourism offering not currently available in the area.

'It’s really exciting for us. We’ve got plans to develop a function facility for literature and music events that will engage visitors to the park with the local heritage dating back to early European settlement and the most famous owner of Dingley Dell Cottage, the highly esteemed bush poet Adam Lindsay Gordon,' he said.

As part of the grant, the conservation dividend focuses on the ongoing maintenance of the heritage-listed museum cottage, its stables and gardens, and the management of invasive weeds such as periwinkle and horehound. The conservation dividend will also go towards other projects in the Dingley Dell Conservation Park including the revegetation of native plant species.

Belair National Park Holiday Park

Owner and manager of Belair National Park Holiday Park Jenna Harris said the $679,488 grant will allow their family-owned business to complete a $1.3 m upgrade 12 of the cabins to become four-star accommodation, fund two new double ensuites for caravanning guests to use and upgrade security.

Located only 11-kilometres from the CBD, Jenna, her husband Ryan, and her parents Val and Dave all work in the beautiful family-friendly park, which attracts an average of 10,000 annual visitor night bookings and borders Belair National Park.

'It’s an amazing opportunity for my family and the holiday park,' she said.

'Getting access to this grant is allowing us to be able to progress on work that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise do for many years.'

'Sustainability is a core focus of our park, and these funds will ensure we are able to upgrade our facilities in keeping with our ideals, in particular making sure that the cabins are more environmentally friendly, with better insulation, better lighting and more positive sustainable outputs.'

'Being so close to nature, as well as a mum to two young children, it’s important to me that we try and minimise our output, by going away from single use materials, recycling waste and installing recycled fixtures.'

As part of the grant the family will fulfill the conservation dividend by supporting works being undertaken by the Friends of Belair National Park and contributing to priority conservation projects to restore significant flora and fauna populations within the Park. They will also continue to promote, educate and improve the “conservation corner” of their 4.5-hectare holiday park.

Cleland Wildlife Park Wilderness Retreat

The Adelaide Hills is set to become home to a new world-class nature-based experience, with plans unveiled for a $10 million wilderness retreat to be nestled among the trees within Cleland Wildlife Park.

The team behind award-winning Mount Lofty House and new luxury lodge Sequoia, South Australian owned Mount Lofty Properties, has released plans for the wilderness retreat after securing $1million in funding through the Nature-Based Tourism Co-Investment Fund.

The project will include up to 19 low-impact villas designed to blend in with the natural surrounds in a secluded section of Cleland Wildlife Park and will be designed in a way that minimises ecological disturbance. A guest area, which will include a restaurant and facilities for weddings and conferences, will also be built to accommodate both guests of the retreat and visitors to Cleland Wildlife Park as part of the project.

The new wilderness retreat will expand and enhance the visitor experience available at Cleland Wildlife Park, which is one of South Australia’s much-loved tourism destinations. It will be a first-of-its-kind experience for South Australia, and similar to Jamala Wildlife Lodge in Canberra and the Wildlife Retreat at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

Mount Lofty Properties Owner Dave Horbelt said he was delighted to be able to partner with the South Australian Government on the project.

‘The creation of this wilderness retreat will bring a new level of international and interstate interest and visitation to the region,’ he said.

‘The retreat will offer an intimate experience that will connect guests with some of South Australia’s most iconic and treasured wildlife.’

As part of their conservation dividend Mount Lofty Properties will provide support to the Koala Life organisation, which is based at Cleland Wildlife Park and tasked with the conservation of Australia’s koala population. The Mount Lofty Properties contribution will help fund vital koala research.