The Big Banana, a superb attraction for 50 years
THE Big Banana is a huge part of Coffs Harbour's history and continues to play a big part in tourism in the region.
It welcomes close to one million visitors each year and with some of the plans in place for the future, this figure is set to grow considerably in the coming years.
I started in the position of General Manager in February 2013, and when the opportunity arose to control one of the country's most recognisable icons, it didn't take much for me to jump at the chance.
There have been a number of improvements to the park over the past 18 months leading up to the 50th birthday, for which I am very pleased and proud to have been a part of.
We converted the unused Future Culture Centre into a state-of-the-art Laser Tag arena, we completed a soft renovation on the main buildings, ice rink, gift shop, water park facility, and the Big Banana itself.
We also welcomed the Coffs Coast Visitor Information centre to our attraction and just this week we officially opened our new 36-hole mini golf course.
Thankfully we have an enthusiastic and dedicated team of around 100 staff members to assist with the operation.
The Big Banana is a unique business. I have been in tourism and hospitality for my entire career and I have never seen a business with such huge peaks and such low troughs in any given year.
The only way to successfully operate the business is with the help of a dedicated management team and a very large number of school students that willingly give up their school holidays and weekends to help The Big Banana cater for the vast amounts of people that pass through in the school holidays.
The business is also very diverse, we grow and sell our own bananas, operate a busy food outlet, develop and co-ordinate manufacturing of our own products in our gift and souvenir shop, lease four retail outlets onsite, operate six rides/attractions, have an active land development in progress with further stages to come and then, of course, maintain the Coffs Coast's most recognised icon, The Big Banana and its surroundings.
There are some very exciting additions and improvements scheduled for the fun park in the coming years, but even as it stands, The Big Banana now more than ever is a whole bunch of fun.