Paul Freebody confident Adventure Waters theme park will become a reality
BUSINESSMAN Paul Freebody has vowed to silence doubters of his $41 million water theme park, saying he has secured the backing of two banks.Fun for all: Artist's impression of the Adventure Waters theme park
Mr Freebody said it had been hoped to announce a start date for the multi-million dollar project in September, but he was now unsure whether work could begin before the wet season. "Realistically, we’re about 70 per cent there, my target was to make an announcement for a start date in September but I don’t think it will be feasible," he said. "We have ticks on boxes but investors still have some paranoia about what will happen with the Greece default and there are concerns about the world market and tourism. "We are getting interest, it’s just a matter of picking the right person to be in business with, it needs to work and flow."
But the ambitious project, which has stalled for the past three years because of cyclones, a court challenge and Mr Freebody’s failed tilt at state politics, hinges on the commitment of a private investor.
Mr Freebody told The Cairns Post yesterday the proposed Adventure Waters water park near Smithfield had secured two major Australian banks as investors but the project was waiting on a final cornerstone investor to seal the deal.
Nearly five years after Mr Freebody and his wife Kim started the application process for the park, set to be located at Smithfield at the site used previously for Vic Hislop’s Shark Show, Mr Freebody remains confident the park will definitely go ahead. "Australian Tourism came up last week and we held a meeting and we will be speaking to the mayor and councillors with a further update in the short term," he said.
"It’s not a matter of if, but when."
The project faced opposition from the start, with concerns from the Cairns Regional Council at the time of the initial proposal in 2009, followed by neighbours, the Dillon family, and Mulgrave Mill lodging appeals against the council’s eventual approval, which ended up in court.
Mr Freebody said the appeals were the "straw that broke the camel’s back" for investors who were secured at the time. "Investors said they came to Cairns and had a negative response and that it was a great project but too hard," he said. "But that’s all in the past and we now have a spring in our step."
The Adventure Waters water park would bring 300 construction jobs and around 220 positions to Cairns, with Mr Freebody contacting an employment agency yesterday to discuss potential traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities.
Mr Freebody said the park would not be in direct competition with Edmonton’s Sugarworld. "It’s a different demographic and market," he said.
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