Parks Victoria is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) to operate the hop on hop off visitor shuttle service within the 560 hectare Point Nepean National Park.
The shuttle is part of the state government’s master plan for the park and the latest chance for a private operator to run the shuttle comes 16 years after the John Howard-led federal government first announced plans for 90 hectares of the former Defence land to be subdivided and sold for housing.
The announcement that the prime coastal land near Portsea could pass from public to private hands sparked a wave of protests that eventually saw the federal government hand control of the park to the state government in 2009.
The state and protesters successfully resisted efforts by the federal government to determine uses for the park before control would be handed to the state.
Parks Victoria now manages Point Nepean National Park.
The shuttle runs between the park entrance, Quarantine Station and Fort Nepean and is the only passenger-carrying vehicle (besides bicycles and authorised vehicles) allowed past Gunners Cottage.
Parks Victoria says Point Nepean has more than 500,000 visitors a year, with more than 25,000 using the shuttle.
The three-year contract includes “exclusive vehicle access beyond Gunners Cottage”; “opportunities” to provide services for major events and other park activities; “exclusive” vehicle access for all group bookings to Fort Nepean; and the chance to partner with other operations within the park.
There are now more than 30 licensed providers in the national park offering such activities as guided tours, heritage tours, bushwalking and bike riding.
Expressions of interest for the shuttle close 4pm 17 May.