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$10m to restore Walka Water Works to its former glory

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A plan to restore the heritage-listed Walka Water Works to its former glory is set to benefit from a $10 million windfall.

The iconic venue, described as a “jewel in Maitland’s crown”, will receive the significant financial injection thanks to round two of the NSW Government’s Regional Tourism Activation Fund.

It also follows a proposal, which was unveiled in October, to transform the site into a $25 million accommodation hub.  

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin and Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold at Walka Water Works. Photo: Rod Thompson

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said Maitland City Council, Reflections Holiday Parks and Crown Lands had partnered on a joint bid for the funding.

“This announcement’s [$10 million] great news for the region,” he explained.

“Walka Water Works is one of the state’s most unique public sites, serving the Hunter since 1887 as a source of water, then power and now recreation and heritage.

“The latest multi-million-dollar investment will allow for additional improvements that can make it a tourism magnet for the Hunter Valley.”

An artist’s impression of stage one of the Walka Water Works’ Pumphouse.

Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold echoed those sentiments.

“It’s terrific to see this funding come through from the NSW Government to get the historic Pumphouse building returned to the community for weddings, hospitality and more,” he said.

“I’m really excited residents will be able to enjoy and use this iconic premises once again.

“Council has already committed to a new road to Oakhampton and Walka Water Works.

“However, before any work begins on the site, a Development Application (DA) must be lodged, including carrying out community engagement, site investigations and appropriate studies, like an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“We’ll keep everyone informed throughout the process.”

Cr Penfold also allayed fears the upcoming changes would affect the current status quo.

“Free community access will remain, including the walking trails and use for events like parkrun,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“As for the planned accommodation, such as eco-friendly cabins, it’ll cover less than 10% of the Walka Water Works site.”

Maitland’s Walka Water Works. Photo: Kat Forrest | Good Thanks Media

Reflections Holiday Parks CEO Nick Baker said the company would contribute a further $1.6 million to the project, too.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Maitland City Council on this successful grant application, which will deliver new accommodation options for visitors to Maitland, while enhancing community access and amenity,” he stated.

“We look forward to working with council and the community to develop plans for a mix of offerings, including cabins and powered caravan and camping sites.

“The sites will be sensitively integrated into the overall Walka Water Works precinct in a way that complements the existing activities available.”

The $180 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund is part of the government’s $3.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, designed to activate local economies and improve services and community infrastructure for regional communities.

“We know regional NSW has Australia’s best tourist destinations and experiences,” Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said.

“Now, we want to amplify that by helping create new experiences and drawcards that put more heads on beds and attract more tourism dollars.

“The projects backed through round two will give domestic and international visitors further reasons to experience the best regional NSW has to offer.”

Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said the Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands would inject another $1.5 million to improve the reserve and support development of the tourism experience.

“We all know Maitland has enormous potential,” he added.

“This project will improve this historic site, attract more visitors, support local businesses and improve community access to the broader area and walking trails.”

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