Concept plan: The Surf’N’Slide Park at Coffs Harbour Showground.
Concept plan: The Surf’N’Slide Park at Coffs Harbour Showground.

Water park, surf museum for Coffs

A SURF-THEMED water park incorporating waterslides, a wave simulator and a surf museum is the biggest and boldest idea floated for redevelopment of the Coffs Harbour Showground.

Swimplex Aquatics director Geoff Leaver has submitted the concept proposal for a ‘Surf’N’Slide’ Park to the Land and Property Management Authority, which recently exhibited a future land use strategy for part of the Showground.

“Coffs Harbour needs a new attraction to add life and soul to the town,” Mr Leaver said.

Mr Leaver’s aquatic facilities firm, based in Coffs Harbour, was responsible for the $5 million redevelopment of the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Swimming Pool.

His proposal incorporates an updated version of Coffs Harbour’s popular Aquajet, with multiple waterslide rides; a ‘lazy river’ complete with a wave action section for inflatable tube riding; a children’s large lagoon pool with slides and water activity features; a bumper boat pool to boost winter patronage; a bandstand for live entertainment; a café with alfresco seating; a licensed bar; snack outlets; a surf and souvenir shop and a surf school.

Two unusual features of his proposal are for the introduction of the Latitube, described by Mr Leaver as the ‘the first standing wave real surf simulation device’, and the relocation of 82-year-old Scott Dillon’s Legends Surf Museum at Sapphire, which is threatened by Pacific Highway relocation work.

“The Aquajet demonstrated that a ‘pocket’ water park was viable and that was when the population was half the size it is now,” Mr Leaver said.

“Adding to this need is showcasing home-grown inventions and finding a new location for the surfing museum. It all meshes together as an innovative concept.

“Our research and design department is about to release to the world the first standing wave real surf simulation device.

“The release will be the culmination of eight years of development by the investor and three years by Swimplex as his licensee and will focus world attention on Coffs Harbour.

“The city will be the logical location to showcase the product and its ongoing evolution.”

He said the future of the Legends Surf Museum in its present location looked bleak and Mr Dillon was already fielding offers from Western Australia to take most of his priceless exhibits.

Coffs Harbour had lost the Aquajet when it left to make way for new enterprises, Mr Leaver said.

“Its demise was a sad blow for Coffs Harbour and a bitter loss which is still felt to this day.

“This will be a unique concept, being a water park that is primarily focused on surfing.

“The park will be themed around surfing and even the buildings will be shaped like surfboards.

“The facility will have the potential to make Coffs Harbour the surfing capital of Australia and possibly the world.

“Our research reveals that surfing tours have become very popular among backpackers. At least one coach a day passes through Coffs Harbour and the park would make Coffs Harbour a natural destination and stopover, and could open up budget accommodation possibilities in other areas of the showground.

“The proposed Surf’N’Slide Park is not a Gold Coast-style theme park. It is a pocket attraction designed specifically to meet the needs of Coffs Harbour its residents and its visitors.”

Mr Leaver said the north-west corner of the showground fronting the Pacific Highway was an ideal venue for the proposal with 10,000 square metres of flat ground currently unused with the exception of occasional events like circuses and the weekend used car sales, all of which could be accommodated elsewhere.

He said the proposal was designed to start a conversation with the Land and Property Management Authority on the possibility of a long-term lease.



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