Tourists and locals flocked to a cellar door opening in Mount Gambier on the weekend in an area where the council is trying increase business activity.

Luke and Rebecca Trotter’s business, which offers wine tasting, coffee and snacks, opened in the former WIN Television studio next to Blue Lake on Good Friday.

“People walk past, they come in, they’ve grabbed their takeaway coffee, they’ve walked their lap of the lake and some of them popped back later to sit back and enjoy a glass of wine as well,” Mr Trotter said.

“There’s nothing like that at all up there, at the end of the day, and when you walk on by and smell the coffee brewing and pop by, you can’t go wrong really.”

Bec and Luke Trotter outside the former WIN studio, where they have set up a cellar door.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Mr Trotter said the council was supportive of the cellar door business and approved its use as a retail outlet.

“The town has evolved quite a bit over the last 10 or 15 years anyway, with much more offerings than it used to have, but I guess it’s like most small towns — you need that council support to get things running,” he said.

The Blue Lake Welcome Centre.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Services at lake reduced

The council runs a visitor centre next to the lake that is open from 10am to 2pm on weekends and public holidays.

It used to be open seven days a week and included a cafe when it was run by locals Garry and Trish Turner.

The council ended a sub-licence with the Turners in 2020, but they still occasionally run tours of the Blue Lake pump station under an agreement with SAWater.

At the time the council’s acting chief executive Barbara Cernovskis “a shared vision and model to activate the Blue Lake with cultural and tourism opportunities” was being developed.

The Crater Lakes Activation Plan is still being put together.

“We are focused on working towards a world-class peri-urban park by ensuring a well-managed natural environment on the fringe of our city in accordance with our Crater Lakes vision and guiding principles,” the council’s manager for economy, strategy and engagement, Biddie Shearing, said.

“Council is currently reviewing its visitor servicing model to ensure that we’re providing our visitors with the best possible experience and guidance when they seek information about our city, with the outcome of any service revisions to be provided in due course.”

Last November the council voted to endorse a plan to improve the trails and signage around the Blue Lake and its surrounds, but did not allocate any major funds towards the project.

Denna Joy (left), her husband and other family members came from Adelaide to see the lake.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Differing views on future

Denna Joy, who was visiting from Adelaide with her family, said Blue Lake was “really beautiful” but it was unclear what activities could be done around it.

“I think there could be something more added to it, maybe perhaps a cafe or some guided tours around this area, because even we were not sure as to where to walk around or what to see here,” she said.

Tourists Jose Cobian and Ilise Girvan say Blue Lake should remain as it is.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Ilise Girvan, from Canberra, said the lake “should stay this way and not have shops or cafes”.

Her partner Jose Cobian thought the lake should “stay like this, with nature, a couple of people around the lake to have a beautiful view of the landscape”.

“If somebody wants to buy anything like food or a beverage, they can go further up,” he said.

Kristy Disselbach and Dean Galpin take a break overlooking the Blue Lake.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

Local Dean Galpin and his support worker Kristy Disselbach agreed it would be good if there was a kiosk open nearby.

“This is probably my thousandth time here and I love it probably as much as the first day I saw it when I was a kid,” Mr Galpin said.

News was last broadcast from the WIN TV studio in 2013 and sales staff moved out in 2020.

A native title claim that would include Blue Lake is before the Federal Court.

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