Waking up the lake

Nick Mowbray. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Nick Mowbray. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Lake Illawarra could soon be home to Australia's first fully mobile cable wakeboarding park, under plans being considered by Wollongong City Council.

Haywards Bay couple Nick and Amy Mowbray have applied to run the tourist venture in Griffins Bay, near Warrawong, with plans to operate it at weekends and public holidays during summer.

Mr Mowbray told the Mercury that council approval was the final hurdle the duo needed to jump before their two-year dream could become a reality.

"It's been a massive learning curve for us, but we're so close now," he said. "We're just really excited to hopefully get it up and going soon."

The park's set-up would include two semi-permanent A-frame structures 180-metres apart - one on the existing King Street foreshore jetty and the other on the kayak landing platform - and linked with a motorised cable and pulley system.

Riders would be towed from one end of the course to the other and back again by an overhead cable connected to the pulley system, planning documents accompanying the application say.

Mr Mowbray said there would be a maximum of 10 riders per hour, giving each user between six and 10 rides per session, at $25 for adults and $19 for children.

"We want to try and keep it affordable," Mr Mowbray said, adding the prohibitive cost of traditional wakeboarding was a major factor in the couple's decision to set up the park.

"Amy and I have wakeboarded for over 10 years, but these days families are looking at somewhere between $65,000 and $130,000 [in set-up costs] by the time you buy the boat and ... gear.

"What we want to do on the lake will bring wakeboarding to people who normally wouldn't be able to afford it."

The Mowbrays say they are also excited about the tourism potential of such a venture.

"We're really passionate about the Illawarra and its potential to be a growing tourist market," Mr Mowbray said.

"I spent many years working at the steelworks and I've witnessed the decline in manufacturing jobs down here.

"I think tourism is the next best thing for the Illawarra."

The Mowbrays' proposal has secured the thumbs-up from Tourism Wollongong and Destination NSW, which gave the duo a $45,000 grant to help pay for start-up costs.

The NSW Office of Water and the Lake Illawarra Authority have also backed the project, planning documents say.

Residents can see the documents and make public comment on the proposal at the council chambers in Burelli Street and at www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au.


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