Jesse Chapman and Mackenzie Currie. Rock Pool Water Park, Rockhampton. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin
Jesse Chapman and Mackenzie Currie. Rock Pool Water Park, Rockhampton. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin Sharyn O'Neill ROK100112swater15

Developer aims to make splash with water parks in region

IT'S a council's dream when a developer with a proven track record offers to build and manage an in-demand community facility, at no cost to council.

Gary Ireland, of The Ireland Group, not only wants to get the Rockpool Water Park up and running again, he also wants to build a water park on the Yeppoon foreshore, near the old hospital site.

And he is prepared to tackle both projects at no cost to either council, and said he had already spoken with the Rockhampton Regional Council about Rockpool.

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow said the council would be thrilled to see the facility reopened, and all the better if it was private enterprise money.

"It was extraordinary in its day," she said.

She said Mr Ireland had a great track record with the council but they were obligated to put it out to expressions of interest.

"We can't just talk to one developer," Cr Strelow said.

Mr Ireland is more cautious about working with the new Livingstone Shire Council after walking away from plans to develop a $1million base for the Australian Institute of Sport at Emu Park in 2006.

His plan was to make way for national and international athletes to train in the region.

"But they (Livingstone council) kept going around in circles and I told them if they couldn't make a decision, I wasn't doing it," he said.

He handed the lease back to the council, which required them to employ a manager.

Instead, The Ireland Group built a 10-lane swimming pool on the Sunshine Coast and brought Olympic teams to train there.

The Ireland Group develops and manages aquatic centres and water parks across Australia.

Mr Ireland is a former world swimming and ironman champion.

His wife Bridgette is an Olympic gold medallist and was named one of the greatest female water polo players.

The family has been in the aquatic industry for 70 years and the company built and managed Rockpool before selling the lease in 2006.

FACT BOX

Dry and wetland facilities would be free to the community

12 water slides of different sizes suitable for different ages

Family fun park, similar to Caloundra

Swimming pools

Restaurant and cafe precinct

Beach volleyball and barbecue facilities

Mini theme park for the coastal region



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