THE second year at Chifley Dam has been far from ideal for the Bathurst Aqua Park, but the owners are remaining optimistic that the season will improve.
The aqua park returned to the dam in late 2021, having been unable to open in the two years prior due to the dam's low water level and then COVID-19.
The 2021-22 season looked like a much brighter prospect with the dam full and COVID cases starting to decline, but unfortunately the park has suffered a few setbacks.
The first was its opening weekend in November, which had to be delayed due to significant wet weather and storms.
The hardest hit came over Christmas, which is typically the aqua park's busiest time.
A man disappeared while swimming it Chifley Dam on Christmas Day, leading to a huge search effort and the closure of the dam.
Even though they were allowed to open the park earlier, the operators decided to remain closed for four days as police and other emergency services searched for the missing man.
Owner Mick Hickey said it was a difficult period for the police and the man's family, and also for his business.
"It couldn't happen at a worse time. Boxing Day is our biggest day, so we were closed for four days. That was our busiest week gone," he said.
Even when the park was open, business remained slow as the search for the man continued.
The body believed to be that of the man was recovered last weekend, two weeks after the disappearance.
Mr Hickey said business has since started to pick up, but the sessions aren't sell-outs yet, even with numbers reduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're getting okay numbers, probably averaging 50 per session at the moment," he said.
"Before Christmas it was really good, probably around 100. Hopefully it pans out okay."
He said that "without a doubt" it has been a tough season for the Bathurst Aqua Park, but he is hopeful that it will end on a high note.
The park is open seven days a week throughout the school holidays, returning to weekends only after that.
The season is expected to continue through March and, depending on demand and weather, could still be open up until Easter.
All going well, the park will return at the end of 2022.
"We'll keep coming back. We're not going to go anywhere and we want to get bigger and better all the time," Mr Hickey said.
"Everyone's in the same boat at the moment. It's not just us, it's everywhere. It's just one of those things, you've got to take the good with the bad."
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