Lake Keepit reaches for the stars
The Tamworth and Gunnedah regions are set to become international star-gazing tourist destinations with the announcement of nearly $2 million in grant funding from the NSW Government’s Regional Tourism Activation Fund.
Member for Tamworth and Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said the $1,998,922 grant, awarded to Reflections Holiday Parks Lake Keepit, will deliver event and accommodation facilities to host iconic events with international appeal.
Four new tiny eco homes will also be built at the Crown land holiday park with $760,000 further funding support from the NSW Government, firmly establishing it as an innovative tourism hub that boosts visitation and supports local businesses.
“The star-gazing project aims to maximise one of the area’s biggest untapped advantages: clear star-studded dark skies and no light pollution,” Mr Anderson said.
“It will also maximise the appeal of Lake Keepit by making it a ‘super-star holiday park’ that will boost the State’s capacity to attract astronomy enthusiasts from not only across the country, but around the world.”
Reflections Holiday Parks will make a co-contribution of $499,977 to the project, bringing its total value to around $2.5 million.
The tourism grant will fund eight star-gazing tents and star baths with views to the night sky. Other proposed improvements including an upgraded chalet, accommodation for couples and groups, dining and performances under the sky, commercial catering opportunities, upgraded amenities, wifi, telescopes and firepits.
Improving the Crown land holiday park will help boost the local visitor and regional economy, by increasing local tourism and creating jobs.
The grant also means Reflections Lake Keepit will be able to cater for longer stays, events and festivals, school groups and coach tours – visitors who will support local cafes and restaurants, enjoy adventure and cultural tourism and return year after year.
Reflections Holiday Parks’ CEO Nick Mr Baker said the ambitious star-gazing project would be a magnet for inter-state, international and domestic travellers.
“Big Sky country needs a big sky experience, and this brings together astronomy, nature, outdoor dining and indigenous culture,” he said.
“We estimate the new facilities could attract 45,379 visitors and 6,201 visitor nights each year, contributing $1.675 million to the economy. This means additional economic benefit of $608,952, and an extra 8,244 visitors and 1,581 visitor nights annually.”
The new facilities will be activated in collaboration with the local Gamilaraay people, the Tamworth Regional Astrological Society, local performing artists and local food and wine producers.
The event infrastructure will enable the holiday park to welcome guests for fine dining and performances under the starry skies, from hearing stories of the Zodiac, to learning about Aboriginal Culture and the Dreamtime.
The four new tiny eco homes are being further supported as part of $28 million in loan funding announced for Reflections last year to improve facilities at its Crown land holiday parks and help boost regional tourism.
Eco features of the tiny homes include cladding using carbon negative timber panels made from recycled hardwood and beeswax, and decking made from recycled hardwood and composting toilets. The homes will have external baths on decks and fire pits, accommodate couples and families, and take advantage of the spectacular lakeside views.
Reflections is Australia’s only social enterprise holiday park group, reinvesting profits into the 9,289 hectares of Crown land sites it manages throughout NSW for social and environmental good.
Its 2030 Strategic Plan has a vision to significantly boost regional tourism and economies with improved facilities, innovative accommodation, expanded nature-based attractions, local Aboriginal experiences, and more food and beverage offerings for guests.
Other recent improvements to the Lake Keepit holiday park include:
A glamping tent precinct with 6 three-person tents, a communal firepit area with sandstone seating and landscaping.
A $350,000 water treatment plant, $40,000 in road upgrades, and $50,000 refurbishment of premium chalet accommodation.
Plans to establish an on-site fuel facility for visitors and their boats by early 2023.
To book, visit Reflections Holiday Parks.