Why does Mount Gambier need a facility like the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre?

    The Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre will provide for improved health and wellbeing outcomes through increased participation in exercise. It will also provide opportunities to further develop event tourism and provide new employment through additional recreation programs, operations and asset management.

    Many sports facilities in Mount Gambier are ageing. Council is looking to the future to ensure our community has access to a multi-purpose modern facility for basketball, tennis, netball, aquatics, other sports and community activities for future generations.

    Who will use the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre?

    The Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre is a multi-purpose facility designed to be a community space, with facilities and activities for all ages and abilities including children, families, youth, community groups, recreational and organised sports and those and those with special needs.

    Users will include toddlers enjoying the splash zone, children learning to swim, the elderly participating in water aerobics classes, sporting clubs hiring courts, fitness trainers, mums and dads enjoying a coffee with a baby in the crèche and youth programs.

    The Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre promotes an active, healthy lifestyle and will be an inclusive meeting and community space.

    What will the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre be used for?

    This modern facility is designed to be a community hub with a multi-purpose design to complement existing facilities and become a focal point for Mount Gambier’s recreation, community activities and functions. 

    Proposed uses:
    • Venue for large conference events and performances for more than 1000 people, including breakout and smaller conference / meeting rooms. 
    • Versatile spaces with a stage for live performances, retractable seating, efficient acoustics, projection and IT facilities.
    • Six regulation size, multi-purpose courts for ball sports such as netball, basketball, indoor soccer, volleyball, badminton, carpet bowls and a range of other recreation and fitness purposes.
    • Aquatics including a learn to swim pool, children’s water splash/play area, 25 metre pool and a warm water pool. All facilities will be to regulation size with disability access.
    • Youth zone, a need that has been identified by Council’s recently completed youth plan.
    • Amenities associated with the facility include a crèche, café, office space for sporting groups and allied health, storage and a strong focus on disability access.
    • Fitness spaces located on the first floor along with community and conference rooms and associated amenities. Seating is also provided on the first floor, overlooking the six multi-purpose courts.
    • The current 50 metre pool (and grass surrounds) will be upgraded. 
    • The exterior features include increased car parking, undercover drop off areas and a paved and landscaped entrance.

    Why has the price increased from $39.1 million?

    At the time of the community survey in 2018, the $39.1 million figure was based on an intermediate design and estimated costs provided by independent quantity surveyors. The market response to the tender process determined the true build cost of $57.3 million based on the final design which has been refined to increase flexibility and functionality following community/user group feedback.

    The cost increase can be attributed to:

    • The cost to implement connection for supply of utilities (water, sewerage, gas and electricity) which could not be fully costed until the final design stage
    • Locality loading
    • Increased risk profile due to COVID-19
    • Inclusion of the 50 metre outdoor pool refurbishment and landscaping
    • Increased investment in fully electric heating and cooling solutions supported by solar, a timber structure and hydronic flooring in the pool area to reduce whole of life costs
    • Changes to meet fire and building safety compliance.

    Wasn’t the $39.1 million cost locked in by the previous Council?

    There was no resolution of Council preventing the project from progressing beyond $39.1 million, nor has there been a rescission motion relating to this. 

    Following majority support in the community survey (72%) for the intermediate design and cost estimate, it was determined that any decision to proceed beyond a $39.1 million project would be a decision of Council. At the conclusion of the tender process and on presentation of the market price, Council made an informed decision to progress due to many factors, particularly the social and economic benefits and the affordability due to the Council’s strong financial position.

    How is the build being funded?


    • $15 million from the Federal Government 
    • $10 million from the State Government,
    • $350,000 from District Council of Grant
    • $31.95million funded by City of Mount Gambier through borrowings at very low interest rates over a period of 20 years - $22.9 million will be spent locally on trades and supplies during the construction period.

    How will the cost be met by the City of Mount Gambier? Can we afford this?

    Council remains in a very strong financial position with low borrowings and access to funding at interest rates that are the lowest they have been for many years. 

    The project has attracted an unprecedented $25 million in Federal and State Government funding. 

    Why was the community only told about the changes to the project cost now?

    The building contract was signed on Monday 24 August 2020 and released the information to stakeholders and the community the same week. 

    Council held confidential meetings about the project to uphold the integrity of the competitive procurement process and to secure best value for money. Therefore, cost estimates on the final design could not be publicly released during the live tender process which ran from August 2019 to August 2020. Most of the reports previously held in-confidence have now been released on Council's website.

    Does this mean our rates will rise further?

    Rates set at 4.5% as committed in Council's Long Term Financial Plan will cover interest payments and projected operating costs.

    What does the term intermediate design and budget mean and how has been used for this project?

    The intermediate design is a concept that outlines the footprint of the build and does not include the detailed material selection, final layout and configurations. Independent cost estimates were provided for the intermediate design in accordance with industry standard pricing. 

    The final design includes all detailed drawings and specifications that have been assessed as compliant with applicable building codes and has been approved through the State planning authority, which included another engagement process.

    Based on the final design and independently assessed cost estimate Council made the decision to progress to tender to seek the market response.

    Why isn’t the head contractor based in Mount Gambier?

    This is a unique build that requires a builder with suitable experience with complex infrastructure. Badge Constructions are a South Australian owned tier 2 national builder with extensive experience in complex and large scale projects. 

    Badge have had a local presence over a number of years on projects including UniSA, Mount Gambier Prison and Resthaven.

    When will the Community and Recreation Hub be completed?

    The expected completion date for the new facility is autumn 2022. We will keep the community updated on the project timeframes as the build progresses.

    Why is the project still going ahead in the current climate relating to COVID-19?

    COVID-19 has placed restrictions on many Australians’ movements and only highlighted the importance of investing in our own ageing facilities and infrastructure to strengthen our city as a regional centre now and into the future. 

    The head contractor has committed to achieving a minimum 40% (equating to $22.9 million) spend directly into our local economy and have a proven track record delivering against that KPI. 

    This is an unprecedented level of economic boost to the community at a time when it is needed most.

    Why is Council doing this, the community just wanted an indoor pool?

    Several of our sporting and recreation facilities will need either major refurbishment or a complete rebuild in coming years, in particular the Aquatic Centre and the Ice House. Council has worked with various sporting clubs and members of the community to during the design of the facility to ensure it will meet the needs of our community now and for many decades into the future. 

    The community and Council have seized the opportunity to secure Federal and State grants to move this project. To meet the requirements for the federal funding the facility must be multipurpose and a space for the whole community, not just select sports. The inclusion of additional and multipurpose facilities helps to guarantee the viability of the facility by offsetting some of the operational costs through additional income. 

    Why is it the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre and not just an indoor pool?

    Within the next 10 to 20 years several of our major sporting and recreation facilities will need either major refurbishment or a complete rebuild, in particular the Aquatic Centre and the Ice House. The community and Council have seized the opportunity to secure Federal and State grants to move this project forward.

    The Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre is a unique facility that will provide a range of community, sporting, all weather uses in one central location.

    The design provides for the following facilities:
    • Conference, events and performance space, adaptable for many users with 1000 person plus capacity.
    • Six indoor multi-purpose courts catering for all sports from indoor bowls, traditional ball sports, gymnastics, dance and much more.
    • All year round aquatics facility including children’s water play, learn to swim pool, 25 metre pool and warm water program pool.
    • Community and function Rooms.
    • Fitness areas.
    • Dedicated youth space.
    • Increased ability to attract major State and National sporting competitions, conferences, events and performances of significant social and economic benefit.

    Will the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre have a hydrotherapy pool?

    The Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre will feature a warm water program pool for swimming, exercise and relaxation. 

    Boandik Lodge opened the Community Wellbeing Centre in 2019 incorporating a hydrotherapy, over 50’s gymnasium and a range of auxiliary treatment spaces and facilities.

    Why doesn’t the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre include a 50 metre indoor pool?

    A 50 metre indoor pool would substantially add to the capital cost (several million dollars) and the operational costs of the facility including heating a much larger body of water and climate control for a larger internal space. 

    The vast majority of recreational pools are 25 metres, both regional and suburban. The community will have access to the current 50 metre heated outdoor pool for six months each year during the main swimming season (October to April).

    Will any groups be immediately impacted by the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre development?

    The Council owned facilities occupied by the Open Door Baptist Church, Girl Guides and a section of courts used by the Mount Gambier Netball Association will be directly impacted due to the footprint of the new facility.

    Council worked together with displaced tenants to facilitate alternative arrangements or relocation to a suitable transitional site. All displaced tenants transitioned into new facilities in early 2020.

    Where can I find more information about the facility?

    Find out more about this exciting project by:

    If you would like to receive regular updates as the project progresses subscribe to the newsletter.

    Why did Council go ahead with the project for $57.3 million without further community consultation?

    The community survey was undertaken to gauge community consensus for the project to secure the Federal Government funding. The result of the community survey determined that there was consensus within the community to progress with submission of a business case to the Federal Government to secure a $15m funding contribution. Confirmation of the Federal Government contribution was a requirement to secure the $10m funding contribution from the State Government. 

    Based on the final design and independently assessed cost estimate Council made the decision to progress to tender to seek the market response. 

    At the conclusion of the tender process and on presentation of the market price Council made an informed decision to progress to a signed contract based on:

    •           meeting the principle objective of the project – to build an all year round, multi-purpose community and recreation facility providing activities for people of all ages and abilities,

    •           the community consensus to progress the intermediate design to secure Federal and State funding contribution of $25m,

    •           milestone and funding obligations of the signed agreements with the Federal Government ($15m) and the State Government ($10m),

    •           Council’s strong financial position and ability to afford the build and operation of the facility while maintaining a commitment to not raising rates beyond 4.5%,

    •           the ability to continue delivering current Council services,

    •          Council's financial capacity to afford further large projects this year and in future years to continue to enhance quality of life,

    •           the Social and economic benefit to current and future generations of the community of Mount Gambier and surrounding region,

    •           an unprecedented economic boost for our community at time that it is needed most as we position our City and region for a strong recovery from COVID-19.

    Will the Council conduct another community survey due to the increased costs?

    There will not be another community survey. Ordinarily, the Council would have gone to the community with the final design and cost estimates, rather than the intermediate design. However, in order to secure the unprecedented level of Federal and State Government funding, the Council was required to gauge community consensus on the project with the most current information available at that time.