Moree Water Park is well on its way to becoming one of the country’s best water ski sites after being named the host of the 2019 National Waterskiing Championships.
The announcement was made at the gala dinner of the recent National Waterskiing Championships, held in Goondiwindi over Easter.
Moree Water Ski Club had been negotiating with Tournament Water Ski Australia over the last few months to win the rights to host nationals, so president James von Drehnen said it’s very exciting news.
“It really validates the fact that the tournament lakes have been built to international standards,” he said.
“Our plan is to have one of the premier sites on the eastern seaboard.
“The opportunity to host nationals really validates the direction we’re taking.”
Mr von Drehnen expects the national titles will bring more than 1,000 people to Moree for about 10 days, which he said is a great opportunity to not only showcase the water park, but Moree, the community and the town’s other great facilities including the artesian pools.
“It’ll bring bucketloads to the town,” he said.
Moree will also host the NSW state titles the weekend prior to nationals, as well as hosting NSW and Queensland state rounds in late 2018.
The park has also been awarded the opportunity to host the Australian Junior Masters for 2019, 2020 and 2021, which will include a ski school the week prior to each event in January/February.
“It’ll be bringing 100 of the top junior skiers in Australia to Moree,” Mr von Drehnen said.
“That’s really exciting.”
Each of these events will bring hundreds of people to town.
“Goondiwindi just held a very successful competition and if we can match their efforts, it’ll establish this Border region as a premier water ski region,” Mr von Drehnen said.
While the announcement is great news for the Moree park, it means plenty of work for the small but hard-working Moree Water Ski Club.
Mr von Drehnen said there’s plenty to do to prepare for nationals.
The biggest thing will be getting the big circuit lake operational. To be operational, the water needs to be 1.5m deep. It’s currently at 0.8m.
“We’re really focussed on trying to get all available water into the big lake, so we may need to sacrifice one of the smaller lakes,” Mr von Drehnen said.
“The other thing we need to do is we have to provide $100,000 worth of ski jump and judging infrastructure. We’re seeking grants for that and have been in touch with Adam Marshall’s office who are pointing us in the right direction.”
The club has just put in an irrigation system and are planning to have Mehi Beach built by the end of winter, thanks to a $140,000 grant from round one of the NSW government’s Stronger Country Communities (SCC) Fund.
“Once we get Mehi Beach in, that’ll give us a viewing area for nationals,” Mr von Drehnen said.
“We’ll have two lakes operating side-by-side which will be really good for spectators.”
The next project on the horizon is to extend the amenities block.
The club is currently in the process of applying for funding as part of round two of the SCC funding, having received endorsement from Moree Plains Shire Council to proceed to the grant application stage.
Eventually, the club has plans to build a multipurpose building which would include the expanded amenities, an observation deck and cafeteria.
“It’ll sit right on the beach, like a surf club,” Mr von Drehnen said.
For now, the club are focussed on building Mehi Beach and installing an automated gate and CCTV, which they have secured funding for, to be able to make the park accessible to the general public.
“The aim of the club is not just about being a tournament site, but the second primary goal is to have the park accessible to the community,” Mr von Drehnen said.
“Our biggest fear has been as we build the infrastructure and develop the park, which the ski club is bearing all cost, is how we can have the park accessible to the public during the day but close it at night.
“So the gate will open and close automatically.
“The intention is that the general public can go and enjoy the beach, go skiing, go swimming, provided they respect the infrastructure and it doesn’t get trashed or vandalised or misused.
“We see [the park] can offer something significantly different to what’s offered now.”
Eventually, Mr von Drehnen envisages the establishment of sports such as sailing, dragon boating, and kite surfing to be held at the park, which could also be utilised for camping and caravan shows, festivals, events and much more.
“Once we’ve got the infrastructure there we can do all that stuff,” he said.
“We’re starting to get momentum. That’s the big challenge, it was always going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
“The big thing is we’re doing what we said we’d do.”