WITH the opening of the Bathurst Aqua Park just days away, councillors are already predicting that it could be one of the best things to have ever happened out at Chifley Dam.
The aqua park was proposed by Hickstar Investments around 12 months ago and came to the attention of the public in March this year.
After successfully progressing from the development application stage through to construction, the park will host its first customers on Saturday at 10am.
Deputy mayor Bobby Bourke said Chifley Dam had been underutilised for many years, but now the park was presenting an opportunity for regular daily use.
“Now that it is here and set up, I think it is going to be one of our features of Bathurst,” he said.
“It’ll bring people to the city.”
He said initial bookings of the park for groups were already proving that people would be prepared to travel for such an attraction.
Those people will more than likely stop at other places in Bathurst, which can share in the visitor economy.
“[The owner] has bookings from people two or three hours away, mainly schools,” Cr Bourke said, adding they would be likely to go to museums as well.
With families also likely to travel for such a major attraction, he said he could see the cabins at the dam being fully booked over the summer months from next year onward.
He expects there will be a big crowd out at the dam on Saturday for the opening, as well as for a regatta being hosted by the Bathurst Pan Dragons.
“I hope someone gets a good picture of what the dam can look like when everyone is out there having fun,” he said.
Councillor Jess Jennings also expects the aqua park to draw crowds to Chifley Dam and Bathurst itself.
“It has the potential to really carve out a unique niche for itself and increase visitation to Chifley Dam,” he said.
- VIDEO: A look at the progress of the aqua park at Chifley Dam.
He also noted that Lagoon Road, which leads out to the dam, had undergone upgrades which would make it safer for everyone who uses the road.
“It has been already about two years [since the last upgrade] and now there is a new stretch being upgraded, which has come in the nick of time,” Cr Jennings said.
Councillor Jacqui Rudge also spoke highly of the aqua park, saying the investment from big businesses is “a sign that Bathurst is becoming a tourism hub”.
As other parks Hickstar has been involved in were very successful, she said there was no reason why the Bathurst version couldn’t do just as well and help bring a new kind of tourist group to the region.
“I’m hoping that people who may not have come to Bathurst before will come for this attraction and realise how good Bathurst is and what it has to offer,” she said.
After this weekend, Bathurst Aqua Park will be open from Thursday to Sunday every week.
Operations will extend to seven days a week during school holidays that fall between now and the end of March, when the park closes.
For more details, visit the official website.