When the Waterwheel complex was put up for tender five years ago, it faced an uncertain future. A team of local people, led by Upper Yarra Community Enterprise (UYCE), facilitated a vision and returned this iconic landmark to the community.
Today the Waterwheel complex consists of the Visitor Information Centre, Handmade artisan shop, the Waterwheel Art Gallery and the Indoor Forest Environmental Discovery Centre.
In 2016 more than 35,000 people visited the Waterwheel – more than one person a minute – and this figure grows each year by at least 25%. (And goes against the decline in traffic in other visitor information centres in the region.)
Volunteers are the heart of The Waterwheel with around twenty local knowledge experts dedicating their time. The Great Steps of Warburton mosaic, also funded by UYCE, is a popular attraction that more than 300 community members helped create.
Tourism in the region is growing fast and UYCE is supporting a range of region-wide tourism initiatives including the successful www.visitwarburton.com.au website and advocacy group Warburton Valley CEDA.
‘For a town that needs tourism as part of its economic prosperity, the Waterwheel is an essential operation made possible by UYCE funding and people,’ says Geoff Vickers, Executive Officer. ‘Returning the Waterwheel to the community is something to celebrate every day.’
The Waterwheel and is an excellent example of how people can get together and create sustainable progress in their own towns. ‘