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New visitor servicing model for Mount Gambier

New visitor servicing model for Mount Gambier
04 July 2024

City of Mount Gambier Strategic Development & Visitor Economy Coordinator Amanda Stevens at Engelbrecht Cave.
Amanda Stevens and Engelbrecht Cave
City of Mount Gambier Strategic Development & Visitor Economy Coordinator Amanda Stevens at Engelbrecht Cave.

City of Mount Gambier will begin to implement a ‘hub and spoke’ visitor servicing model from mid July 2024. The concept involves a Visitor Centre Hub to be located at the main corner entrance of the Riddoch building on Commercial Street, with spoke sites at Engelbrecht Cave, Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul, the Blue Lake Welcome Centre and the Lady Nelson.

Council acknowledges that tourism has changed significantly since the Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre opened on Jubilee Highway East in 1986, and has endorsed a position to grow the city’s visitor economy by changing the way travellers experience and contribute to Mount Gambier.

“Mount Gambier’s destination appeal is strong, and the time is right to consider the long term direction for visitor servicing in our city,” General Manager City Infrastructure Barbara Cernovskis said.

This model represents a paradigm shift in the way we grow our visitor economy, one that prioritises traveller engagement with our visitor servicing team, industry connection and environmental stewardship.

“When current Engelbrecht Cave licensee Jan Coleman gave us notice that she was handing back the keys at the conclusion of her lease at the end of June, Council decided to activate this site - one of our highest visited tourism sites - as the first ‘spoke’."

The spoke site will be the first transition site of the hub and spoke model and provide cohesive storytelling, digital and physical visitor information and will be accessible to travellers seven days a week.

“Council will provide visitor servicing, tour guide experiences, Mount Gambier branded merchandise and light refreshments.”

“A business development and implementation plan will guide the roll out and we will take a phased approach to the changes at the site. This will enable us to closely measure how things are going with the new model to inform our decision making and ensure best practice,” Ms Cernovskis said.

Under the new visitor servicing plan, the Blue Lake Welcome Centre and Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul will follow as spoke sites.

“Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul Kiosk operator Julie Holdsworth will retire at the end of her lease in October, and Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul will then be included as a spoke visitor servicing site.”

“Our priority is to ensure presence of visitor servicing at Engelbrecht Cave and Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul to facilitate a smooth transition back to Council’s care and control. The Blue Lake Welcome Centre will remain a spoke site and continue to operate in its current capacity for now, with consideration to future increased activation at this site aligned with higher visitation periods.”

Changes to the service model means that the current visitor centre at the Lady Nelson site will be repurposed, aligned with the Community Land Management Plan. Council is currently preparing a call out for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to seek community activation of the site, with a view to house the city’s creative industries and/or historic collections.

View the Visitor Servicing Model FAQs.

Media contact: City of Mount Gambier Media and Communications Coordinator Sharny McLean on 0413 798 327 or