Ballarat Clarendon College has purchased a 40 hectare property at Yuulong, west of Cape Otway, as a new home for its year 9 residential program.
Since 2001, year nine students have spent eight weeks on King Island but with the future of their mine-site camp under speculation the school has opted to build a new campus on the Victorian coast.
Principal David Shepherd informed parents of the purchase of the land at Yuulong in a letter in September.
"We continue to undertake our due diligence and are working closely with the Otway Shire and a number of consultants to determine how the property can be developed and a new campus built to maximise the effectiveness of this valued program for our students," Mr Shepherd wrote in a letter to parents.
"It is imperative that this new location provides the situational, environmental and cultural contexts for our students' health, wellbeing and personal growth."
The 40 hectare property currently comprises grassy rolling hills, a small house and some shedding and operates as Wombalano Country Retreat, offering accommodation and a back-to-nature experience.
The area is said to be a haven for bush birds, birds of prey, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and many other species.
Property websites reveal it was listed for sale around $1 million.
In a letter to parents late last year, Mr Shepherd said the facilities at King Island needed considerable funds to make them sustainable, and there was ongoing speculation around the reopening of the open-cut mine on the site, which necessitated the school to look at moving the residential program elsewhere.
"Our campus at Grassy was originally built by King Island Scheelite Ltd (KIS) as accommodation for miners and their families. And nearly 30 years later, the campus requires considerable capital investment to be sustainable," he said.
"The characteristics which optimise the effectiveness of our current context (King Island) simultaneously provide the greatest challenges - for example, the isolation and cross-jurisdictional complexities.
"Committed to ongoing capital investment and the evolution of our student development program, we have, and continue to, undertake significant research and investigation of the most appropriate setting in which to effectively deliver and achieve our desired outcomes for students. In the years since 2004, when the first of our students undertook their King Island experience, much has changed in our world and there are many factors and variables to which schools must now attend."
Unlike the current King Island campus, which requires a flight to get there, the Yuulong campus is less than 2.5 hours from Ballarat.
Year nine students spend eight weeks in the residential program, which has a focus on health and wellbeing and building the students personal understanding, skills and capacities through engagement with the outdoors and nature.
"The eight-week program enables participants to fully immerse in our student development curriculum, drawing on the outdoor nature of the program to progress their ability to self-manage, to build and nurture relationships and to develop their identity," Mr Shepherd wrote.
Students will continue to stay on King Island for 2020 and at least part of 2021 while the new complex is built.
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