The 2015/16 financial year saw more visitors than ever to the Wetlands as we successfully rolled out a number of events and tourism offerings. We made great progress across a number of areas. Most notable over the past year was the Autumn Program which highlighted the great potential of the site as a number of tourism initiatives were rolled out. These included Mokoan Flash Tents, Guido van Helten street art installation and the Autumn Event Program, which included a multicultural music festival, moonlit and bonfire dining experiences and a cultural bike ride with the Yorta Yorta Nations.
We continue to forge strong relationships with a broad range of community groups and educational institutions and to be a location that locals and visitors want to learn about. We engage with all groups through tailored tours or programs. Our annual Winton Dreaming event, that engages local Indigenous children, continues to grow. This year we welcomed over 40 Koori students from surrounding schools to spend the day ‘on country’ with elders, learning about their traditions and the significance of the wetlands environment. As in previous years, this day proved to be very special for all who attended.
The first annual Mokoan Science Forum on wetland ecology was hosted at the site last year and was attended by over one hundred eminent scientists and practitioners from around the nation. This will be an annual event aimed at facilitating research and disseminating ideas on wetland ecological renewal.
We have strengthened our key partnerships with the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP), Regional Development Victoria (RDV), Benalla Rural City, Rural City of Wangaratta, Glenrowan Vignerons Association, local CFA brigades, North East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA) and Tourism North East. We are all working to continue delivering ecological renewal as well as great outcomes for eco-tourism at the site.
As we move into the next phase of strategic planning for the 2016 – 2019 we have farewelled fellow Committee members, Brian McLennan and Doug Bain who both finished their appointments in March 2016. I would like to sincerely thank Brian and Doug for their valuable contributions to the Committee’s work. Doug provided valuable contributions based on his deep understanding of the site and local community and Brian contributed through his expertise in engineering and water management. Tammy Atkins, Kim Scanlon and Irene Grant were appointed to the Committee in March. They bring strong backgrounds in community service and expertise in strategic planning, tourism development and more.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Committee members for their ongoing commitment and expertise. Our Committee continues to function very well and this would not be possible without their knowledge, energy and professional approach. I would also like to make mention of the outstanding efforts of the Winton Wetlands staff.
Dr Dennis O’Brien
Download the Winton Wetlands Committee of Management 2015/16 Annual Report