Gimme shelter… federal MPs Justine Elliot and Janelle Saffin at the launch of the Macadamia Castle’s new facilities yesterday. Weatherproof shelters will soon replace the need for umbrellas for visitors to the attraction.
The Macadamia Castle is preparing for major changes.
As the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Highway upgrade sets its eye on 2014, the tourist attraction is set to expand.
Tony Gilding of the castle yesterday announced a major expansion and refurbishment program. The program is in part funded by two grants from the federal government’s tourism industry assistance schemes. The total project budget is excess of $500,000 and the funding assistance from the federal government is $227,475. The balance will be funded by the Macadamia Castle.
The new highway is planned to open in late 2014, bypassing the castle, which is not taking this challenge lying down and will use these federal funds to continue its 38 year improvement program. Mr Gilding said that there had been worries as the highway upgrade got closer to its completion, but the expansion at the castle has help allay those fears. ‘It was a concern for us but now we feel very confident that we will be able to maintain the Macadamia Castle and continue to grow it over the next decade.’
Part of the grant money will go towards the construction of three undercover areas to increase comfort for visitors at the castle. The areas will strategically positioned throughout the six acre Animal Park. ‘They will allow us to guarantee all weather facilities to local school and community groups,’ says Tony. ‘One will be positioned near the pond and will be suitable for future free flight bird shows and educational presentations. The second is an inside/outside room with access to the cafe and the animal park, which will allow the Castle to host more functions and events. The third is the barbecue area, which will allow groups to lunch in comfort and will also double as an area for keeper talks.’
The other project is an educational frog conservation pod in association with Southern Cross University. It will serve the dual functions of education about the importance of saving our local frogs as well as being a program to breed and release local endangered frogs.
Southern Cross University amphibian expert Dr David Newel will oversee the froggy project. ‘The Frog Pod will be only the second of its kind in New South Wales,’ said Doctor Newell at the media launch held at the castle yesterday. ‘It will provide a vital educational and research facility to help promote and conserve the frogs of the northern rivers.’
Dr Newell say the pod will provide a quarantine facility that will greatly assist research on endangered rainforest frogs, while allowing for public display. ‘The project represents a significant financial investment by Tony in order to achieve conservation outcomes. While it is early days yet, the facility will also provide significant opportunities for students studying environmental science at SCU and ultimately may allow us to release captive bred frogs back into the wild.’
Federal MPs Justine Elliot and Janelle Saffin attended the launch of the Macadamia Castle expansion program. Ms Elliot said the Macadamia Castle is one of the north coast’s most iconic and exciting tourist destinations. In operation for more than 30 years, its animal park has provided exciting adventures for generations of kids. ‘I’m proud as the local MP to have delivered this important federal funding for an outstanding local business,’ she said. ‘This federal funding will help Macadamia Castle expand to provide more jobs and enhance their tourist attractions. I congratulate Macadamia Castle for their outstanding role as a major tourist destination on the north coast.’
Ms Saffin said she was pleased to support the application for federal funding as Macadamia Castle provides valuable employment and training opportunities to over 50 local people. ‘Many of his wonderful staff are my constituents, as are many of the local families that take advantage of the attractions wonderful facilities.’
Plans are underway to start the works soon. For more information visit the macadamia castle website: http://www.macadamiacastle.com.au.