Enhancing the Tower Hill experience

As work begins on a documentary to tell the Tower Hill and Belfast Coast story, have a look back on previous grants SWCF has provided to help enhance this amazing south west Victorian environmental and indigenous asset.

Tower Hill is one of the iconic landscape features of south west Victoria, and rightly a place for visitors and locals alike to stop and engage with the natural beauty of the region.

Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Co-Operative Ltd is working to improve the visitor experience at Tower Hill, with an improved visitor centre and guided tours with indigenous rangers to explain the connection they have with the environment.

South West Community Foundation is very proud to have been a supporter of Worn Gundidj across the years, providing vital funding to help enhance the visitor experience and support the work the Co-Operative is doing to support indigenous artists.

Worn Gundidj director Chris Sheppard said a grant of $5000 received from SWCF had helped to build and decorate a series of benches so visitors could sit and enjoy the area around the Visitor Centre.

“$5000 doesn’t get you a lot these days, but when you see how much the benches are being used and the impact of the art, it’s something people might think is really small, but it’s been fantastic,” Mr Sheppard said.

“Especially as we are coming in and out of social distancing [the benches] have been a brilliant asset to have when we can’t have anyone inside.”

Mr Sheppard said all the grant money went back into the community with the benches were constructed by the Warrnambool Triton Woodworkers and Worn Gundidj engaging local indigenous artists to design and paint the benches.

“It’s been amazing for the artists to showcase their work,” Mr Sheppard said. “Some of the artists have ended up on products sold in the [Tower Hill] shop, and around the world. This has given them an opportunity to build their profile.

“Decorating the benches has given the artists a sense of purpose and a sense of pride, it has been really beneficial for them.”

Mr Sheppard highlighted one indigenous artist who had been working as a bricklayer and working on art as a side project.

“On a bricklaying job the homeowner commented they would like some indigenous artwork. He pulled out his folio, including the bench he had completed at Tower Hill, and now he is going to paint a massive wall in their backyard,” he said.

Mr Sheppard has arranged all the benches in his favourite spots around the Visitors Centre.

“Some are placed where I can enjoy the view of Wagon Bay and some are in the shade of the she-oaks for the sunny days,” he said. “The benches are also used for a lot of staff meetings, it’s much better than sitting inside.”