Council Services / Community

Central Highlands Council - Visitor Amenities

Councils often provide toilets, rest stops, scenic view areas and tourism information, which benefit tourists, visitors, businesses and local drivers. These amenities and their ongoing service, maintenance and repair can be quickly forgotten, or taken for granted by all of us, unless there’s a problem. This story gives an insight into how councils support and develop tourism, business and commuters every day by assisting people to travel around Tasmania. 

The Central Highlands Council identified an important need for visitor services along the Lyell Highway, between Ouse and Queenstown. Council noted there were no rest stop toilets and tourist information for a 174km stretch …  that’s a long way to hang on!  This distance also serves to remind us that some councils must work over large areas of the State, with relatively few ratepayers and resources. 

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Figure 1: Central Highlands New Visitor Facilities are located at Derwent Bridge, about half way between Ouse and Queenstown

A decision to create new facilities was taken by the Central Highlands Council. The aim was to provide public amenities for tourists and travellers, to improve the visitor experience of self-drive tourists, and encourage visitors to access areas of interest in the region. 

Central Highlands Council worked through a range of issues.    

  • First, funding was tackled. Council worked with the Tasmanian Government, and the Australian Government’s Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure Program.  The Council, the State and Commonwealth all contributed funds to the project.
  • The Council took care of the design and building.  The new visitor amenities would consist of toilets and shelter, a barbecue and shelter, picnic tables with shelters, a sealed parking area, a large tourism information sign and a ‘caravan dump point’.  A dump point is a facility that takes sewerage and waste water from caravans and RV’s, and prevents theses wastes from polluting the environment and impacting human health.

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Figure 2: The visitor facilities as built, shown left to right are: the tourism information sign and the toilet block and shelter

  • Council worked with Destination Southern Tasmania to develop the map design.  The large map provided information helping connect visitors stopping at Derwent Bridge, to activities and places of interest in the southern and western regions.  The sign shows landmarks and places of interest within the Central Highlands area, including scenic drives, walking trails and information on the National Park.

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Figure 3: Barbeque shelters and barbeques at Derwent Bridge

  • The site chosen for the facilities was close to the Lake St. Clair National Park and the World Heritage Area, Council wanted to ensure that the amenities including toilets, were designed to a very high environmental standard.  Also, the operation and maintenance of the facilities needed to have no negative impacts from the toilets, cooking or rubbish.  Again, the design work and ongoing maintenance regime, were very important to the success of the project.  

Not everything went smoothly however.  The West Coast wilderness is certainly stunning but the environment can be a harsh one. Central Highlands Council had many challenges and some delays working in or around heavy rain and snowfalls. To give some idea of the likely difficulty, the West Coast receives about 2.4m of rain per year.  Yes meters, not millimeters!    

Through the work of the Council the facilities were completed and officially opened in February 2016.  

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Figure 4: The member for Lyons Eric Hutchinson, the Central Highlands Mayor Deirdre Flint OAM, 
and Premier Will Hodgman met on site to perform a small opening ceremony.  

Since the installation of the facility feedback from the tourists and the public has been excellent. 

Businesses have advised that the area is being well utilised by the public and tourists alike. 

Council believes that this project was a success, with significant positives for the Derwent Bridge community, the region, tourists and visitors. 

The Derwent Bridge Visitor Amenities project is a great example of some of the everyday work councils do for their community, for businesses, tourists and visitors.