Coffs' Big Banana to become major water theme park
TOURISM in Coffs Harbour is set to reach new heights with the announcement of a major new water park at the Big Banana.
Plans have been revealed for a landmark $1.6 million development that will also see the revival of a much missed other - the aquajet.
Big Banana general manager Michael Lockman said the project was the ideal way of marking the Big Banana's 50th anniversary.
"This is a key strategic move in converting the iconic tourist attraction into a major theme and fun park," Mr Lockman said.
Construction is due to commence in May by Coffs Harbour-based company Swimplex Aquatics.
Project manager Daniel Leaver said highlights of the water park would include a 14m platform height that would launch four exhilarating rides.
They will include a 96m open body slide, a 119m raft ride and a "heart-stopping" kamikaze slide.
"After the first hump, the kamikaze slide is a 45-degree plummet that gets riders to the bottom in 38 heart-stopping metres," Mr Leaver said.
"It's the quickest way to the bottom short of bungee jumping."
The fourth slide is an exhilarating 90m tube body slide with "black hole" and "light effects" features for even greater excitement.
The project was announced by Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight and MP Andrew Fraser at the Big Banana's 50th anniversary cocktail party on Saturday night.
A video message on the night by Prime Minister Tony Abbott highlighted the wide-spread appreciation of the iconic "traffic-stopper".
"Although there are more than 150 big things across our land... there is none more iconic than Australia's very first big thing - the Big Banana," Mr Abbott said.
A commemorative plaque unveiled by Cr Knight and Mr Fraser will be displayed in front of the icon.
But all eyes are now on the water park and Mr Lockman said further developments could follow the success of the first stage.
"We have experienced a considerable uplift in visitation since the laser tag and mini golf course was built," Mr Lockman said.
"We believe that this major water park will take visitation to the park and Coffs Harbour to record highs."
An extensive marketing plan is scheduled for the opening of the water park and a Stay and Play-style package will be developed with accommodation providers in the region to drive tourism and visitation.
Other major elements of this project include an AquaTower complete with tipping bucket, interactive water toys, an additional three kid-sized water slides and an Interactive Water Jet Zone.
Work is expected to be completed by September.