Self-proclaimed “big kid at heart”, Shellharbour deputy mayor Paul Rankin was the first one to slide down a giant water slide at Lake Illawarra on Saturday.
Though the summer weather has been unpredictable and damp of late, mother nature turned on her charm for the hundreds who turned up to Reddall Reserve between 10am and 2pm for the Super Slides.
It was Cr Rankin’s idea to trial three giant inflatable slides for a free community day out at the lakeside location. He’d been inspired after holidaying in Cairns and seeing a similar concept at one of their football fields.
“We do community work, but we don’t do enough of just something that’s fun without any strings attached to it,” he said.
“We need to give the people a really good day out, focus off politics for once and focus on fun.”
Originally they had hoped to get “one really big slide” but it was already booked for the 11,000 scouts attending the Australian Jamboree near Appin this week.
Lola Santiago from Shellharbour arrived early with her three children and said using three 7 metre slides was a better idea. She said the day was exactly what the community needed.
“It’s all about the community,” she said. “It not only brings people to Shellharbour and brings money into the community and creates from within, it gets the kids doing stuff and gets them outdoors and it’s free … it is really good for a lot of people that cannot afford it.”
Kerry Horwood of Mount Warrigal brought her three kids down and welcomed more free events like the slides, especially during school holidays when it could be tough for parents to keep kids happy.
Another Shellharbour parent, Peter Gardiner, said it was nice to take the kids to something and not be out of pocket. However he admitted living in the southern Illawarra was a great spot for children with so much to keep them entertained.
“We live close to the water, we’ve got Jamberoo down the road, we get up to the Southern Highlands to get away from the heat sometimes,” he said.
“It’s actually not a bad place to live.”
Many families made it a day out setting up tents, camp chairs and picnic blankets where they could find a free patch of grass. Lunch-time snacks and BBQ’s were also scattered about.
Even local radio station Wave FM setup a tent and broadcast from the reserve.
Cr Rankin said if the day proved successful enough Council would look into making it an annual event.
Meantime another free event to take advantage of will be at Oak Flats swimming pool on Friday.
From 2pm to 5pm Council has organised youth activities, free sausage sizzle and giveaways.