Council's planned riverside development a boost for Wagga city

Wagga residents are divided over council’s $6.2 million plan to give the river precinct a face-lift.  

It follows Wagga City Council’s reveal it would begin work on the second phase of the Riverside Master Plan, intending to re-purpose the Wagga Caravan Park site as part of a grand redevelopment. 

Park visitors and supporters have rallied behind the business, with some saying it would be sad to see it leave the city. 

Social media comments have shared disappointment at losing the popular Johnston Street destination and questioned the large allocation of funds; however, not all feedback has been negative. 

A survey, conducted by The Daily Advertiser, revealed 52 per cent of almost 500 polled residents were against the plan, while 45 per cent approved the move. 

The caravan park owners refused to comment on council’s decision to not renew the lease in 2019, but Wagga Business Chamber manager Anabel Williams said a relocation of the park would hardly affect tourism.

Ms Williams said she hoped the park would not leave all together but added council’s plans to improve the precinct would bring more travellers to the city. 

“Ultimately it’s up to the business, whether they choose to continue trading in Wagga,” Ms Williams said. 

“If it does relocate to Wiradjuri Reserve (as planned), that is still a beautiful part of the river.”

Ms Williams said taking advantage of Wagga’s greatest attraction would be a win-win and praised the initiative to build up the Beach area. 

“Once the levy bank has been raised, it will be the perfect opportunity for development,” Ms Williams said.  

“Wagga needs something to encourage more people to come into the city.”

Ms Williams said the riverside was a draw card for local residents too, but Wagga needed to capitalise on being an ideal mid-point between Melbourne and Sydney. 

BIG4 Caravan Park owner Jeff Simons agreed the upgrading of Wagga Beach would be fantastic for tourism but he also felt for the park owners being forced to uproot.

He said, from an outside perspective, his concern was Wiradjuri Reserve was more prone to flooding as it was set lower than Wagga Beach. 

Mr Simons said caravan parks were often tourist destinations in their own right, attracting a niche market of holidaymakers.

“We don’t peak like coastal parks do,” Mr Simons said. “We’re booked all year round.” 

He said it seemed council had already compensated for a potential loss, with the development of the free camping area at North Wagga. 

“As far as facilities go, (the Wagga Beach upgrade) is a good move,” Ms Simons said. 

“Visitors are always looking for things to do.”