The summit car park will be sealed and new lookouts and a larger amenities block will be built in a $2 million upgrade of Mount Canobolas announced on Thursday.
Work will start in January on the project which will take about 18 months to complete.
It will include providing a new lookout at the north-east end of the summit for views toward Orange, separate pedestrian and vehicle areas and will all be wheelchair accessible.
About 50-60 walking track signs and parts of the network of walking tracks will also be upgraded.
The state government funding has been described as “the largest upgrade to visitor facilities at Mount Canobolas ever undertaken”.
Sam Farraway, MLC said it would likely double visitor numbers to the summit from the current annual figure of 75,000.
National Parks and Wildlife Service Team Leader Ranger for the Central West, Steve Woodhall, said the first part of the project would be to upgrade the Walls and Towac picnic areas.
He said works on the summit were due to start next September.
Mr Woodhall said the $2 million would be sufficient to complete all the work.
“It is in heavy need of a good upgrade,” he said.
“We are going to sort out the car park arrangements. We are going to separate out the pedestrian area and the vehicle area so we’re not having issues there with people walking across the car park area while cars are turning up and heading out,” he said.
Mr Woodhall said the toilet block would be doubled in size and be wheelchair-friendly.
“There are going to be changes to the central island in the lookout area. Some of [it] is going to disappear,” he said.
Mr Woodhall said the second lookout would also become the start for walking tracks on the summit.
Orange mayor Cr Reg Kidd said it was great news for the region. “You can see for 50 to 60 kilometres away. This is the iconic point of this region,” he said.
Cabonne Council mayor Cr Kevin Beatty said it was a major investment in tourism and user-friendly facilities.
However, he said it would not lead to the mountain being accessible during snowfalls.
He said the gates would have to stay closed for safety reasons.
“It’s a difficult situation,” he said.
“The amount of people who get stuck and in trouble is incredible.
“It’s a narrow road, it doesn’t take much to run off the road and people don’t have chains.”
This story is from David Fitzsimons and appeared in the Central Western Daily on 11 December 2020.