Council endorsed the draft master plan for the Woodburn Riverside Precinct in March 2017. The $3.8 million two-phase project is particularly important with the opportunity to positively respond to the upcoming bypass of the town by the Pacific Highway and to position it for a positive future.
The project will see the site transformed into a unique facility and space which will continue to draw road and river traffic to the area.
The upgrade of the precinct will be staged and the initial works to be completed with the current allocation of funding will include:
- Construct pontoon and jetty
- Construct community building
- Construct western lawn and picnic terrace
- Installation of new playground
- Demolish CWA, ski club and old amenities buildings.
The initial stage of the precinct will provide a modern multi-use building containing a community function room, a Visitor Information Centre and public toilets, as well as a new jetty and pontoon area, and children’s play area. These will provide a centrepiece for the town to focus on the positive aspects of change, including:
- becoming a new water ski sports hub focused on the Richmond River, attracting regional, state and higher level events which draw valuable sports-based tourists and spectators from northern NSW, south east Queensland and beyond;
- acting as a gateway to the diverse tourism offerings of the Northern Rivers region, from coastal villages to the east, agriculturally based towns to the west and other major attractions including the Rainforest Way tourist drive which commences in Woodburn and travels through the world heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia;
- creating a platform for a healthy and vibrant community which is no longer characterised by the heavy traffic of the highway, with the building providing a base for health and wellbeing activities, business and community events as well as private functions and celebrations; and
- remaining an attractive stop-over for those who are travelling along the Pacific Highway, particularly with the new public toilet facilities, Visitor Information Centre and renewed connections between the main street and Richmond River.
As a result of the infrastructure improvements, the local and regional economy will be stimulated initially through the construction phase, but more importantly the facilities will act as a catalyst for much greater levels of tourism opportunity over the longer term. For example, numerous organisations have identified the area as having perfect attributes for competitive water ski and wakeboard competition – from local right through to national and international events.
With waterways in northern NSW and south east Queensland becoming increasingly overcrowded and unsuitable for water ski competition, the implementation of proposed infrastructure will unlock latent demand and generate more than 12,000 visitor nights and numerous day visits per annum. Combined with worldwide exposure through live streaming and localised exposure from those visiting for competitions or as spectators, the facilities have great economic development potential for the region.
The upgraded park will not only encourage the travelling public to continue to stop at Woodburn, but will also assist the town to transition from being reliant on passing trade to one which becomes a gateway to other localities in the region – and a destination in its own right. The multi-use building will enable the removal of three existing buildings which currently act as a visual barrier between the main street from the adjoining waterway, creating a more attractive outlook and highlighting the river as an integral part of the town.
Estimated construction completion – Mid 2019
Estimated total cost of project $3,800,000
Committed funding – $2,162,880 (Australian Government $810,000; NSW Government $652,880; Richmond Valley Council $700,000)