Multi-million dollar plans announced for Kapunda

$25m plans unveiled

Plans for a $25 million nationally significant tourist attraction for Kapunda were unveiled today, with Light Regional Council now inviting investors to become foundation partners to make the project a reality.

 “Drover’s Encounter” was initiated by Council as part of its Strategic Plan 2021-2025 and Economic Development Plan 2020 – 2023, and is being described as a uniquely Australian destination for locals and visitors of all ages, offering culinary, cultural and entertainment

Public feedback will be “a critical component” in shaping the Drover’s Encounter, designed to showcase Australian pastoral life and celebrate the historic township of Kapunda, as Council aims for a construction target of 2023 with operations to commence in late 2024 or early 2025.

Included in the Drover’s Encounter plan is The Drover’s Experience Centre which will offer immersive storytelling of Sir Sidney Kidman, Frederick Dutton, the Seppelt Family and other local icons with strong connections to Kapunda, Light Country and the Barossa Valley region. 

The Stockman’s Arena is an events venue which will host live horsemanship shows and experiences, whilst the Signature Restaurant will showcase farm to plate dining using local and native produce within an iconic heritage

An Adventure Playground is set to become a major family destination for locals and visitors alike and the Activated Historic Copper Mine will offer interactive experience on the site of Australia’s first commercially successful mine dating back to the 1830’s.

Mayor Bill O’Brien couldn’t be more excited about the preliminary design by architects, Woods Bagot and how the project will impact regional tourism.

“With a prime position on Kapunda’s historic Main Street, Drover’s Encounter will deliver major economic benefits, including job creation and increased trade and footfall into town centre businesses,” said Mayor Bill O’Brien. 

“Drover’s Encounter will bring welcome growth, celebrating our stories and preserving our local values for future generations. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

The Light Country area covers nearly half of the Barossa Valley which already attracts one million day trippers and 285,000 overnight visitors each year, and Shaun DeBruyn, Tourism Industry Council South Australia (TICSA) CEO,  said Drover’s Encounter will benefit from, and continue to drive, substantial growth to the

“By offering something so unique, whilst being authentic to the region and embraced by locals, Drover’s Encounter will unlock Kapunda’s potential as a key destination for national and international tourists,” Mr DeBruyn said.

Light Regional Council’s General Manager Economic Development, Mr Kieren Chappell with Deputy Mayor Deane Rohrlach and Mayor Bill O’Brien at the Kapunda Historic Mine after it was confirmed more than $1.2 million worth of tourism based improvements will be completed at the site by the end of 2023. 

$1.2 million for Kapunda mine

More than $1.2 million worth of tourism based improvements to the Kapunda Historic Mine site will be completed by the end of 2023, delivering on actions within the mine site’s Tourism Development and Conservation Management Plans much sooner than Light Regional Council had planned.

Council approved a significant construction programme of works in January last year in its “Light Stimulus Programme” which prioritised various road upgrades, community building projects plus conservation and improvements to tourism facilities as and when matching grant funding became available.

Council was advised the recent grant funding of $1,011,836 through the Federal Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) programme had to be allocated by June 30 with works needing to be delivered by December 31, 2023, and it decided to allocate the entire amount to the Historic Mine site to deliver on the plans that had previously undergone community consultation.

Mr Richard Dodson, Council’s General Manager Infrastructure and Environment said it was fortunate Council had “a pipeline of projects” approved for delivery.

“While it would be ideal to continue with an aggressive road sealing programme, there are quite often limited funds available for social infrastructure such as what is being proposed at the Kapunda Historic Mine Site,” Richard said.

“As such, allocating the LRCI funds towards these works is considered appropriate.”

Improved signage, cycling activity areas, observation decks/platforms, shelters, seating and sealed paths are among the list of improvements to be made at the mine site to activate the area.

Council initially committed $450,000 to the project which, added to grant funding of the same amount, would have resulted in a $900,000 investment at the site.

That contribution has now been reduced to $200,000 meaning a total project cost of $1,211,836 once added to the LRCI grant.

“The additional funds will ensure that quality infrastructure can still be delivered at the site despite the sharp rise in the ‘building” costs,’ Richard said in his report to Council.

“The works are likely to neatly complement any future development that may occur on the adjacent Council owned land and will increase the tourism offering in Kapunda and the broader region.”

General Manager Economic Development, Mr Kieren Chappell said potential opportunities that would arise after the completion of upgrades will tie in well with Council’s proposed “Drover’s Encounter” project which is now seeking investment partners and operators.

“With its frontage to Main Street, Drover’s Encounter unlocks the full potential of the Kapunda historic copper mine site which is only minutes’ walk to the east through a striking quarry landscape,” Mr Chappell told The Leader.

“Connecting ‘Town to Country,’ the journey along this natural elevated landscape will allow visitors to discover the beauty of countryside views and provides opportunity for interpretive moments along the way.”

Millions to be invested in Light Country

The $25 million Drover’s Encounter is part of an integrated portfolio of projects in the township of Kapunda and surrounding region to create what Light Regional Council is describing as “a strong and compelling tourism destination”. 

Public and private investment, both proposed and underway, include:

• Commitment of $1.2 million just announced for Historic Copper Mine.

• $5.9 million stage of the Great Australian Wine Trail. The new segment will connect Kapunda to Tanunda via more than 40 tourism destinations, forming part of 280 kilometres of cycling trails connecting five celebrated wine regions. The expansion is projected to bring 5,000 cyclists in the first year.

• Transformation of the heritage-listed 1860s Railway Goods Shed into a community and retail hub.

• One of SA’s largest regional rodeo events, the annual Kapunda Rodeo, attracting around 5,000 visitors each November.

• Signature annual festival, the “Cattle King” festival, to be co-timed with Kapunda Rodeo.

• Restoration of the State heritage listed Kapunda Railway Station to boutique luxury accommodation – completed 2021.

•Silo art installations and Street Art.

• Kapunda Town Square upgrade – completed 2020.

• Kapunda Main Street landscaping and streetscape upgrades.

• Anlaby Road sealing to one of Australia’s most significant stations, the historic Anlaby Station – 10 minutes from Kapunda- completed 2021.

• Anlaby Station upgraded 5 star visitor accommodation – completed 2022.

• Iconic “Drover’s Way” Drive Trail attracting and dispersing visitors to key attractions – completion in 2022.

• $50m luxury 6-Star Oscar Hotel at the iconic Seppeltsfield, 15 minutes from Kapunda.

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