THE CHANCE to test your limits and conquer a fear of heights will soon be available to the Macleay Valley with this week's announcement from Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey of $11.2 million in funding for a skydiving adventure park at Kempsey Regional Airport.
The funding, provided by the NSW and Commonwealth governments, is part of the bushfire local economic recovery fund.
The Macleay Valley Skydiving Adventure Park will include the construction of training facilities, canopy swoop pond, canopy piloting hangar, an indoor rock climbing gym, amenities and accommodation facilities.
Ms Pavey said the project will provide a major attraction to the region and help to promote Macleay Valley to tourists as an adventure sports capital in regional NSW.
"The Macleay Valley is fast becoming one of NSW's top destinations for an adventure sport holiday, with beautiful surfing beaches, fantastic diving, mountain biking and paddle boarding, and the Skydiving Adventure Park will help to cement this status," she said.
"Locals will enjoy the adrenaline rush of the activities on offer and tourists will stay longer in the region to test their limits, spending money with local accommodation, eateries, retailers and other local businesses, helping to keep our local economy moving.
"This exciting new infrastructure project will immediately create around 33 construction jobs and once complete, it will provide approximately 60 employment opportunities, directly associated with running the facility.
"This will be the fun airport of the North, the place to come and enjoy yourself and participate in an array of activities."
Kempsey Shire Council general manager Craig Milburn said the idea for the adventure park was sparked before he started his role in 2018.
"The idea came from two sources back in 2014, Coffs skydiving sent a proposal to council that had the canopy piloting facility which sat on a desk and I wasn't made aware of it until we approached them with the idea for the facility," he told the Argus.
"The other area it came from was once I had the job we looked at what we could do. I've been involved with airports before and we knew there were opportunities here.
"Just by chance my next door neighbour down at my last job in Nowra is one of the head trainers for the Australian Army parachuting and so he suggested I could implement an idea like this at the airport.
"We started to brainstorm it then, and once I got the job we'd already had the germination of the idea."
The park will be constructed near the grass runway at the airport, Mr Milburn said.
Ms Pavey and Mr Milburn added a Diploma of Parachuting will be offered in conjunction with the park's construction, along with providing leadership development and activities for kids.
"Council sought advice from the Department of Education and from that school camps can occur at the park with 40 people allowed to stay," Ms Pavey told the Argus.
"We expect when this park is up and running to its full potential, we'll have up to 15,000 visitors to Kempsey every year accessing the boulder park, rock-climbing and incredible activities through the parachuting school and training.
"This is going to be a game-changer to bring this airport into the 21st century."