Porcupine Village project advances

    Porcupine Village managers Debra and Doug Baird and team have been working hard behind the scenes to revamp the former tourist attraction.

    The team behind the redevelopment of Maldon tourist attraction Porcupine Village has submitted an amended planning permit for consideration by Mount Alexander Shire Council.

    Construction at the site was forced to a standstill in January this year due to breaches of permit application conditions and a lack of approved planning permits, with the exception of the managers’ accommodation and the site’s aptly named Gold Nugget Restaurant, which is now up and running.

    While many local residents and tourists are excited to see the village revitalised, some community members have expressed concerns about the scale of development planned for the site, particularly in relation to the natural environment, noise in a residential area and associated traffic and fire risks.

    The planning permit concerning the site at 8 Allans Road, Maldon seeks the use and development of the land for a place of assembly and function centre, accommodation, camping and caravan parking, vegetation removal, general liquor license, outdoor recreation facility and advertising signage and if it wins council approval could finally pave the way for the highly anticipated opening of the tourist attraction.

    The permit was officially advertised in last Tuesday’s Midland Express and submissions are now open. Council is not expected to make a decision on the matter until after July 28.

    The replica gold-miners village nestled on the 15-acre property on the outskirts of Maldon sat abandoned for 20 years before the property was purchased by Melbourne businessman Frank Hutchinson for a reported $1.7 million in 2020.

    An enthusiastic team has been working hard behind the scenes to breath new life into the former tourist attraction over the past two and a half years – revamping the manager’s house, motel accommodation, revitalising the restaurant and village and installing a new marquee to cater for weddings and functions. There are also plans in place for glamping accommodation, a caravan park and a wildlife experience.

    The facility received a boost with a $1.7 million state government grant in June 2022.

    Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula, visited the village to announce that the attraction had been successful in attaining funding from the Regional Tourism Investment Fund towards the restoration works and new accommodation.

    Minister Pakula said the new offering was expected to created more than 100 jobs.

    “Investing in this project will create jobs now and allow future generations to learn about Victoria’s fascinating gold rush era,” the minister said at the time.

    The revamped village was also the backdrop for television series Gold Diggers, which recently premiered on ABC TV and ABC iview.

    To view the plans and make a submission visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au