Millions of dollars will be poured into the Gold City as a massive face lift is planned for some of Gympie's major attractions, retail hubs and popular sporting and recreation areas.
In the coming years, not only will parts of the heart of Gympie be modernised, accessibility to these areas will be improved. The return of the Mary Valley Rattler, an RV Park and a new CBD transit centre will firmly make the city a destination, rather than just a gateway to the rest of the region. The biggest piece of infrastructure will however, be the new 26 kilometre section of highway that will bypass Gympie, which will not only tremendously improve the safety of the region's main road but ease congestion through the town. The major projects will generate hundreds of jobs in the area, in construction and permanent placement.
Gympie is improving all the time in big and little ways, and here are 21 things that prove it:
1. $2B Solar Farm at Lower Wonga
One of the largest solar generating plants will be built near Gympie, creating 450 construction jobs, 12 permanent operational positions and major business opportunities for the region. Officially approved last December, the $2 billion solar farm at Lower Wonga will generate 350 megawatts from two million solar panels, which is far larger than the 15MW Yandina facility at the Sunshine Coast. With a start date still expected for July, job recruitment could likely start soon.
2. $1B Section D Bypass of Gympie
The most significant part of the Cooroy to Curra Bruce Hwy upgrade, the Gympie bypass, is now fast tracked following a major Federal Government funding announcement. With the government committing a whopping $800 million towards the construction phase this week, the project is within sight. Section D is a new 26-kilometre, four-lane bypass of Gympie and will complete the final link in the 62-kilometre upgrade of the Bruce Highway.
The section eliminates eight sets of traffic lights for people travelling between Maryborough and Cooroy, eases traffic congestion in Gympie, improves access to the Cooloola Coast, better connects Wide Bay to Brisbane and beyond, and ensures this section of highway remains open when the Mary River floods.
3. New Mary Valley Servo
The state government announced a plan for a major new service station and truck stop at Traveston, expected to provide 20 to 30 jobs and service for up to 200 tourists, truckers and local motorists at a time. Concept design tenders were called for early last year for the new truck stop facility, which is proposed for land on the Mary Valley Link Rd, between the new Bruce Hwy and the Old Bruce Hwy. The initial plan includes fuel pumps for 16 cars and four trucks, a service station and shop adjoining a large dining area with food outlets, as well as at least 83 customer car parks including parking for caravans, buses and trucks up to B-Double and B-Triple size.
4. Albert Park Revamp
Gympie's traditional sporting park is getting a major facelift and will now be the home solely to Gympie's touch and athletics facilities and a premier bowls complex. Touch football will score an extra field - taking it to six, while athletics wins out with two permanent discus cages, two shot put circles and double-ended dual synthetic long/triple jump approaches and pits. Much-needed improved parking and traffic circulation is on the list, while a raised club house with other raised viewing areas for spectators will also make the park more user-friendly.
The work has begun, with initial upgrades including entry way changes.
5. Upper Mary Street Revamp
A $3 million upgrade to Mary Streets upper end will bring new life to the business hub with improved pedestrian crossings, walkways and power lines, as well as the introduction of bike racks, trees, alfresco dining spaces and a garden bed and possible improvements to parking and loading bays. Spanning from Monkland St to Channon St, the council said the plan is to transform the top end of the street into a "green leafy, commercially vibrant, welcoming, easily accessible precinct... while retaining the unique charm and character." The plan is still in the design stage, with Mary St business consultation to be part of the process before work is undertaken. The funding, split 50-50 between the council and the Federal Government, expires at the end of next year.
6. Tapas Bar at Rainbow Beach
A hip new bar in prime position will have people enjoying cold brews and tapas any minute now as Sea Salt Bar, Tapas and Bistro is set to open. Right across from the newly developed playground and Surf Lifesaving Club car park atop Rainbow Beach's main beach, the new rooftop bar will afford ocean views. Owner Ruth Modin said before Easter excitement in the town was brewing: "A lot of people missed having the pub on the other side on the beach" The expansion is part of the rebuild of the Sea Salt Cafe, formerly the Coloured Sands Cafe which closed after fire ripped through it in 2016.
7. Town Centre Transit
It's still five years away, but the Town Centre Transit upgrade in the pipeline will significantly change the heart of Gympie. The transit centre, located between Monkland St, Jaycee Way and River Rd, is intended to become a hub for the city's transport. The facility will include public amenities, cycle storage (with showers and lockers), public car parking, short stay RV parking and possibly some commercial uses such as ticket sales, car / bicycle hire and a cafe type outlet. Adjacent to Nelson Reserve and Memorial Park, the new facility would link to Mary St with a "shaded and comfortable pedestrian spine"
8. Mary Street Plaza
A pedestrian plaza linking Mary St to the proposed transit centre will be a space to attract the public and host regular community events. An open space that has a mixture of flexible use paved space, lawn space, public art and water features, the area will also have retail links with suitable uses operating from the Royal Hotel premises and by commercial kiosks built into the plaza. Shaded trees will help the day time appeal while safe lighting will attract night-use. The plaza would be designed to be fully accessible to all.
9. New Play Space
A destination play facility will be another reason for families to visit Gympie's CBD. Planned for Nelson Reserve, the space will capitalise on shady mature trees, incorporating more of a nature play experience as opposed to just equipment based play. It will be located with direct access to parking, picnic and barbecue facilities and public amenities.
10. Fernery at Memorial Park
The Gympie council is in talks about reshaping the Fernery Building in Memorial Park into a cafe outlet or restaurant and opening the fernery to the public. "The creation of a fernery would support the value of Memorial Park's trees and plants and is true to the heritage of the structure," the council reported. "Further investigation of this option is required to establish feasibility."
11. Gympie RV Park
To line up with the total attraction of the Mary Valley Rattler, an RV Park is in the works at the Old Gympie Station on Tozer St. The 24-hour overnight stay RV park is intended to bring the grey-nomad dollar to town and intended to capitalise on the railway theme and will include preservation of track and gantry infrastructure. The project totals $1.1 million, with the state government and Gympie Regional Council splitting the costs in the middle.
12. Expanded Rainbow Beach Surf Club
THE Rainbow Beach surf club is getting a significant upgrade. The existing building on the Wide Bay Esplanade will be getting a new training room, kitchen and dormitories to enhance the productivity and comfort for lifesavers. Surf Club President Shane Handy said he hoped the facelift would attract new members.
13. Imbil Town Centre Renovation
Five top priority improvements will be undertaken to revitalise Imbil's town centre. These most likely include streetscaping of the main road, landscaping the Yabba Creek Parklands, improving parking on William St for cars and RVs, and a pedestrian crossing at Bert Smith Memorial Park are all on the list. The fifth, a skate park at Bert Smith Memorial Park, was also a popular choice, and has already been secured through the State Government's Works for Queensland program.
14. New Super Dump and Transfer Station
Within three years Gympie will get a new super dump at an undisclosed location, as the Bonnick Rd dump reaches capacity. The $25 million project, which would service other Wide Bay councils, is still being explored, but what is approved is a new waste transfer station at Monkland. The $3 million station is proposed for Laurenceson Rd and will act as a central collection point for the region's household and commercial rubbish, recycling, scrap metal and green waste.
15. One Mile Ovals Revamp
Gympie's football and cricket organisations are set to be the big winners when the One Mile Sports Complex receives an overhaul. As part of a major sporting facilities upgrade, One Mile will be the home of Gympie cricket, baseball and continue to be the home of Gympie football and BMX. Improvements will include new cricket fields in a monster reshuffle of football fields, more spectator facilities and a natural walking area near Deep Creek. Pedestrian connections between the ovals and the Aquatic Centre will also be improved.
16. Mary Valley Rattler
The Mary Valley Rattler is still on its way despite major financial and time blow-outs to its revitalisation. The Mary Valley Rattler, one of the big Gympie projects dependent on state government funding Alana Denton
Set to hit the tracks mid-June, the running of the Mary Valley Rattler is expected to inject a major boost into the Gympie economy, as a tourist draw card.The historic train will run from Gympie to Amamoor three days a week, leaving from the old Gympie station where the Rattler Cafe is already up and running and delivering old time service and charm.
17. Youth Precinct
The space next to the old Memorial Pool is earmarked for a youth precinct with facilities to draw in skaters, BMXers and scooter riders. Small outdoor stage areas and seating and viewing areas are also part of the plan, which may incorporate the existing Memorial Pool building.
18. $2.4M Equestrian Centre
A state Of the art Equestrian Centre is in the works for Kilkivan that will include a multipurpose undercover arena, amenities, biosecurity infrastructure and camping sites and boost the local economy with an estimated 19 full-time equivalent jobs. The state government will grant just over $1 million, which means the project must be completed by June next year.
19. Curra Motorbike Park
A nest of informal dirt bike tracks will be turned into a private motorbike park at Curra, ready to draw up to 300-400 visitors each week. The site off Bradys Rd about 5km east of Curra will feature five different tracks to cater for beginners to advanced riders. A trials bike course will also be built on the 32.27ha site, along with a workshop and a sign-on building with a canteen. Parking, a playground and barbecues are also part of the plan.
20. Imbil Camping Retreat
Formerly Island Reach Camping Resort, the newly bought up Imbil Camping Retreat is getting ready for opening in June.New owners Brooke Bastien and Leigh Murphy are getting renovations underway with new cabins, a play ground area and a pool in the plans. But they are keen to keep the natural charm of the tourist attraction intact.
21. Imbil to Brooloo Rail Trail
A unique first-class trail network is planned between Imbil and Brooloo for use by hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders. The trail will make use of the disused rail line between Brooloo and Imbil and provide a link between Kandanga, Imbil and Brooloo.