Grand plans for Clare caravan park

An extended 42-year lease, accommodation development, resort-style swimming pool, community waterpark and management of the visitor information centre are among the options being considered for the Clare Caravan Park.

A $9 million extension was one option put on the table for Clare and Gilbert Valleys councillors by park lessee Discovery Parks at a special workshop meeting on Monday evening.

Discovery Parks chief executive officer and founder Grant Wilckens presented three options to council, each seeking a significant lease extension from the current 20 years, to 42 years.

With 13 years remaining on its current lease, Discovery was seeking a lease extension to enable major development planning within the park, which they believe could encourage up to 25,000 more visitor nights and “circa $7.7m in ongoing regional economic benefit”.

Proposal three included a 42-year lease, an extension of useable land on the northern end of the park (grounds currently ‘managed’ by Discovery, but not utilised as a park facility).

The development would incorporate a community water/splash park, a new internal recreation facility, accommodation and luxury glamping development and management and use of the Clare Valley Wine, Food & Tourism Centre as a potential new gateway into the park.

Options one and two presented scaled back versions of development, however each seeking a 42-year lease.

Lease extension proposal one included a $4m capital investment including accommodation development and internal recreation facilities, while option two was up to $6m development including accommodation development, internal recreation facilities and a public waterpark.

Discovery Parks is part of the G’Day Group, which also incorporates Top Parks, with more than 270 parks across Australia – including 39 parks in South Australia – in both freehold and leasehold arrangements.

Among its successful expansion projects in recent years have been its Barossa Valley, Rottnest Island and Byron Bay parks.

Mr Wilckens – who is also the chairman of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia – told councillors the expansion proposal would work in partnership with Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council to “activate the whole area as a visitor hub for the region”.

“Through partnership we can address the Regional Response Priorities highlighted in SA Tourism’s Regional Visitor Strategy 2020,” he said.

Mr Wilckens told councillors if they gave the redevelopment plans the go-ahead, there was “no reason we can’t get this in by two summer’s time if we can get some decisions made”.

Councillor Malcolm Bartholomaeus requested a clearer proposal for the running of the visitor information centre, with councillor Nedd Golding highlighting potential savings to council if Discovery did take it on.

Mayor Wayne Thomas said council administration would now await direction from council.

• Pictured: Discovery Parks has requested an extended lease for the Clare Caravan Park and has its eye on some major upgrades including a community waterpark, similar to this splash park at its Byron Bay facility.