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'Jamberoo Action Park - checking in with you¬†ūüĆä' - A Message From Jim Eddy - Owner Of Jamberoo Action Park

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A very interesting article published today (6th of June) by The Illawarra Mercury. It included an album of 33 photos (before the Green Snow paragraph), which I'll post in a separate post in chronological order with the photos in the article below:

Quote

40 YEARS OF FUN MEMORIES

In May 1980, Jim Eddy opened a grass ski facility on the family dairy farm at Jamberoo. They told him it would never work but 40 years later Jim Eddy can celebrate the story of how he took some farm land at Jamberoo and turned it into a major theme park.

Looking forward: Jim Eddy looks back in 40 years at Jamberoo Action Park and plans forward for more major investments in new attractions over the next 10 to 15 years. Picture: Anna Warr.

Looking forward: Jim Eddy looks back in 40 years at Jamberoo Action Park and plans forward for more major investments in new attractions over the next 10 to 15 years. Picture: Anna Warr.

IN May 1980, Jim Eddy opened a grass ski centre on the family farm. This week he told GREG ELLIS how Jamberoo Action Park plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary and then invest in many more rides.

IN 1978 Jim Eddy was a real estate broker with no experience in tourism.

But a year later he decided to make his first strategic investment in the industry by spending $1 million on a chairlift, restaurant building, car park and a grass ski slope on a dairy farm at Jamberoo.

The grass ski centre opened in May 1980 and 40 years later Mr Eddy is able to reflect on the hundreds of millions of dollars he has invested in continually developing the theme park, the tens of millions of fun seekers who have enjoyed its rides and the thousands of people he has employed at Jamberoo Action Park.

It all began when Mr Eddy became aware of a big craze in grass skiing occuring around the same time the NSW Government decided to share Illawarra's milk quota with the North Coast. That reduced income on the dairy farm by 18 per cent prompting Mr Eddy to look at other ways for the farm to generate income.

He decided to open a grass ski facility on a hilly section of the property after watching a film called Green Snow showing how the Italian Olympic team trained during summer on grassy slopes in the Italian Alps.

Mr Eddy thought he would only need 20 pairs of skis and 50 pairs of boots but after media coverage in Sydney more than 100 people were lined up waiting to have ago when the gates opened on the first weekend.

Within three months he had 150 pairs of skis for the hundreds of people who drove down from Sydney every weekend to walk through cow manure and then hang on to an old rope tow with a Holden 186 motor to pull them up the hill.

Many people told Mr Eddy his idea would never work but they were soon eating humble pie.

By 1981 Mr Eddy opened the first water slide in what quickly grew to become the biggest theme park in NSW.

An aerial view of how Jamberoo Action Park looks today.

An aerial view of how Jamberoo Action Park looks today.

The decision to invest in water rides was very timely because the 1981/82 drought turned the grassy hills around Jamberoo to dust which meant grass skiing was not possible.

Mr Eddy has been on a roller coaster ride of mostly ups and very few downs ever since. With a unique ability to make key strategic investment decisions at just the right time.

"It has been a very exciting industry to be involved in because you are breaking new ground all the time. You can't just do it once. You have got to do it again and again," Mr Eddy said.

"We had the first grass ski park in the world, the first bobsled ride out of Europe, the third water slide in Australia and The Rock had never been built anywhere. There have been a whole lot of firsts at this park. What makes it interesting for me and the staff is we are constantly creating things that come from an idea. We design and build it and when people come and enjoy it you get this great sense of satisfaction and achievement".

An early view of Jamberoo Recreation Park from the chairlift.

An early view of Jamberoo Recreation Park from the chairlift.

Grass skiing remained at Jamberoo Action Park until 1992 when the public liability insurance crisis prompted Mr Eddy to come up with a new plan. And the investment hasn't stopped since.

But the last six months has been the hardest. The devastating summer of fires prompted calls for Sydneysiders to stay at home and not head down the coast at the busiest time of the year. And that was followed by COVID-19.

Mr Eddy describes it as the biggest challenge he has faced in the park's 40 year history. But it is not going to stop his plans to keep investing in the park.

The $7million investment in a high adrenaline" dual waterslide called Grand Gorge Falls and a new family water play area called Koala Kove has been pushed back a year or two but will proceed and be followed by more new rides.

Artist impression of Grand Gorge Falls which will be the next major attraction built within a couple of years.

Artist impression of Grand Gorge Falls which will be the next major attraction built within a couple of years.

"We had actually moved forward with our plans and were going to do the new ride this year but then the virus hit and closed us down. We have put construction of the ride off which I think is a good decision until we get a clear picture of what the recovery post COVID-19 is going to look like.

"We have a development application which is still current that will take us through at least the next 10 to 15 years. The rides in that DA are already state-of-the-art and the designs are continually being improved.

"If we get a stable environment to operate in with no more fires or coronavirus we should be okay. I think we dropped about $1.2 million in sales early this year. We were up in December. It was going very well and we thought the season was going to be a good one. But then the bushfires and COVID-19 happened".

Mr Eddy described the start of 2020 as diabolical. But he expects many seasons of fun.

Jim Eddy looks ahead to decades more action at Jamberoo. Picture: Anna Warr.

Jim Eddy looks ahead to decades more action at Jamberoo. Picture: Anna Warr.

As Jamberoo Action Park enters its 40th year many are remembering the first water slide, bobsled run, boats and grand prix track that took centre stage by 1985/86.

In 1987 plans were drawn for The Rock, a second mountain slide, landscape golf and a large maze that all opened in late 1988. Some of the early favourites have made way for major new attractions over the years but the memories will always remain.

Mr Eddy would love to hear those stories and see photos leading up to the opening of the 40th anniversary season in September. He said only time will tell whether all restrictions will have been lifted by then but Jamberoo Action Park is preparing to celebrate with families who have been visiting the attraction for four decades. As well as those who have never been before.

Because last season was cut short with the premature closure in March season passes have been extended for the first four weeks of the new season. But season passes for the summer of 20/21 won't go on sale until Mr Eddy gets a clear idea of what is happening with social distancing restrictions. He is hoping it will be business as usual.

An artists impression of Koala Kove being built soon at Jamberoo Action Park.

An artists impression of Koala Kove being built soon at Jamberoo Action Park.

He said the success of any business relies on building great teams and making continual investments to keep things exciting and new.

"Jamberoo has a very good team it has built up over many years. We have one employee (Ros Vause) who has been with us for 40 years and two others who have worked here more than 30. They are very valuable to us. They are a very competent, professional group of people and we can't afford to lose them. If you don't have great employees you don't have a business. People who have been with us a long tell me they love working here because it is a very dynamic and exciting".

Mr Eddy said it was great to be in a business enjoyed by three generations of many families. And is keen for the community to help Jamberoo Action Park celebrate 40 years by posting memories on social media using the hashtag #jamberooactionpark.

 

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From The Illawarra Mercury:

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As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

The Chairlift (1980 to the present) - Jamberoo's main ride & whilst the middle station is no longer operational, you can still stay at the top to take in the view. You can still ride the Chairlift back down but due to it's rarity for visitors to do so nowadays, it may take some time for the operators to notice you in the queue at the top. You can see how the chair these riders are going up as they have 2 bobsleds attached to the back, which the operators take off at the top and put back on at the base station. Technically, the most popular attraction in the park as it is the only way to access the Bobsleds.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

The Splash Out slides (1981 to 2020? 2021? 2022?). The beginnings of the water-based attractions of Jamberoo. Jim Eddy (front) riding one of the slides before the days of rules of 1 at a time? These were the 3rd waterslides built in Australia. They were slated for permanent closure at the end of the previous season to be replaced by Grand Gorge Falls next summer, which is an entirely brilliant replacement, bringing the park to modern waterslide standards (The drop box freefall/speed slides rather than the now-slow meandering waterslides). However, due to COVID-19, will they remain open for another season or two? We'll have to wait & see IF they ever get to reopen. It depends if they have been removed yet or not.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

The Bobsled (Fast/Blue/Single Rider) - opened in 1983. It quickly became the most popular ride at the park and still is. It contains 1 tunnel. However, it could potentially be replaced by an alpine coaster one day. When Grand Gorge Falls opens in a season or two (hopefully), this Bobsled will go through and over, by bridge, the 8-lane racer of the precinct after exiting the tunnel. Visitors can watch as you go over the bridge as it will be a pedestrian bridge too.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Wet Races (1986 to 2005), replaced by Outback Bay, a wave pool, in 2005.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Le Mans/Racing Cars (1986 to April 29, 2012), replaced by the Kangaroo Island area, which currently consists of Funnel Web, Banjo's Billabong & The Perfect Storm as it is still under construction. The lower photo seems to be taken from the bridge that goes over the track to access the undercover queue line.

An early view of Jamberoo Recreation Park from the chairlift.

This is a great photo above - taken after 1986 (as Wet Races & Le Mans/Racing Cars) are operating to the right (You can even see the Le Mans/Racing Cars garage but before 1988 (as The Rock area is not there). Some interesting things to note:

  • Le Mans/Racing Cars queue line is at the garage. The track must have been shorter before they built The Rock and extended it so a new queue area could be built with the access bridge roughly to the right of the tree in the middle of the circuit.
  • The Chairlift's middle station is being used for Grass Skiing. You can follow the grass skiers finishing down near where Surf Hill finishes nowadays.
  • The Tennis Courts are seen next to the Grass Skiing finish area.
  • People regularly riding down the Chairlift (nowadays you are lucky to see a staff member ride down the Chairlift)
  • The Loft Restaurant on the far right, which is no longer operating I believe.
  • You can see the flower barn situated between the coach parking area & the overflow car parking area. However, it didn't become the Flower Barn until 1997, whether it is still operational I am unsure. It looked really pretty inside based on the advertisement.
  • The soon-to-be-gone Splash Out area, with it's two main waterslides as well as 2 pools behind the waterslide pool. The 2 pools were upgraded in the past decade to include a water log feature and an octopus slide feature, one in each pool respectively. Both these rides are slated for removal within 2 years sadly. They might be gone already in fact but they also might last longer than Jamberoo's owners thought thanks to COVID-19.
  • The original entrance to the park is the building in the centre (and still stands today) but in this photo, it's possible there were multiple entries - one for the coaches, one for the cars (behind the main building). From memory, I think back then you had to pay per ride based on old newspaper ads I found.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite rideAs Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Mushroom Pools/Water Cannons, part of The Rock area (1988 to the present). In the top photo, the water is coming out of the top of the mushroom falling onto the visitors. You can see The Rock's brown-coloured theming faintly in the background of the top photo. The lower photo shows some of the water cannons in that area.

But this is The Rock of The Rock area (1988 to the present) - A 5 metre high jump into a 5 metre deep pool below. Along Grass Skiing (1980 to 1992), it was the park's most unique attraction until when Grass Skiing closed. The Rock is still the most unique attraction in the park, though not the most popular for obvious reasons. Note the waterfall that falls from The Rock in some photographs - a touch of theming, which was a sign of the depth of theming to come in their water park-based rides & attractions that have opened since the early 2000's . In the below photo, you can see 4 out of the 8 rides that make up the area - The Rock Slide (the slide to the left with a 1 metre drop), The Rock (the 5 metre jump guarded by lifeguard), Son Of Rock (a 3 metre unpatrolled jump but just like with the 5 metre jump, you must jump when you hear the whistle) as well as the The Rock Pool, where visitors can swim in the south-east half of the area. 1 last slide is off the photograph and that is The Tunnel Slide. You can see where the tunnel goes behind the trees. However, it uses very little water and is slow. Despite early 2000's advertising showing a visitor ride it with a tube. The water flow is too slow to get a tube down the slide. However, when it opened, tubes were a major feature so there may have been a higher water flow between 1988 & 2004, when tubes were more found in the recently opened Rapid River:

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite rideAs Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Bobsled (Slow/Green/Double Rider) (1988 to present) - potentially could be replaced one day by an alpine coaster. It goes over one bridge and before 2007, featured farmyard animals in the paddocks nearby and they could get really close to the track especially if a tree was nearby.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Taken post-1988, a view from the Chairlift heading back to it's base station of the picnic area north of the Charlift base station (which had no covering over the queue back then!) & east of the (now former?) Splash Out waterslides. There was a lack of new attractions during the mid-2000's, with only 1 attraction opening OUTSIDE the park, the Flower Barn in 1997. Inside the park, there were flower plantations which you could go and see grow. I'm unsure if the Flower Barn is still open (as it was separate to the park but featured on the park map). Hopefully it is as it was the only attraction I had not visited at the park since I last visited over a decade ago. But in 2001, Jamberoo revealed it's 1st masterplan, which was completed in 2007. The 1st stage of the masterplan? An 8-lane racer to be called Surf Hill and here it is completed but not operational, with, I can only assume is, Jim Eddy pondering how the park will go with it's new water strategy about to be begin. Little did they know, NSW's major theme park at the time, Wonderland Sydney, was 3 years away from permanent closure at the time.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Then it opened! And Jamberoo became not just a grass skiing park, not just a recreation park but one of the best themed water parks in Australia. Oddly, compared to their recent developments, Surf Hill has little to no theming apart from it's colour, which was to represent rolling waves hence 'Surf Hill'.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Surf Hill (2001 to present) - replaced Grass Skiing (closed 1992) & could be slated for removal one day due to Grand Gorge Falls.

24 April 2004, Wonderland Sydney, NSW's major theme park since 1985 (it operated shorter than Jamberoo despite being larger and bigger) had closed due to (according to The Sydney Morning Herald) apparently everything but poor management. Where do the Sydneysiders go for their theme park thrills? To Jamberoo...where you control the action!

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Rapid River (September 10 2004 to the present) - The best themed 'lazy' river in Australia by far (can't be fully 'lazy' as mid-ride is a wave machine), possibly could be replaced by a more advanced version to open possibly no later than 2023 called Playtpus River, which is part of the new (but still under construction) Kangaroo Island area.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

The full Billabong Beach/Rapid River area (10 September 2004 to the present) with a rare capture of the Settler's Shack bucket actually tipping - it rarely tipped - then in 2012 came Banjo's Billabong, whose bucket actually tipped often). To the left is The Terrace viewing deck. Rapid River goes anti-clockwise in this photograph (this is the 'lazy' part of the ride). To the right, you can faintly see Surf Hill & the cables of the Chairlift. Also, off photograph to the right, is Rapid River's indigenous-themed cave, where the 'lazy' part disappears and a wave machine pushes you into a mammoth row of waterfalls before reaching the ride's exit. Unlike most lazy rivers, depending on attendance, you have to hop off at the end of 1 circuit. Unlike most 'lazy' rivers, there is only 1 entry/exit to Rapid River (mind you, this 'lazy' river does have a wave machine).

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Outback Bay, a wave pool that opened on December 4, 2005, replacing Wet Races, which closed earlier that year. It is one of the best themed wave pools in Australia. Complete with real sand (separated from the wave pool) & a non-functional lighthouse, it replicates an Aussie beach. At the main entrance, yellow/red flags waving on the 'beach' (though you don't need to swim inbetween these ones). A seating area called Bombora Wharf, is above the wave machine & is complete with a captured 'shark' & 2 food and beverage areas located to the north east of the wave pool, which also features a 2nd entrance/exit to the wave pool area. Kiddies Cove is situated south-west of the wave pool and is a children's water play area which has been made undercover in recent years. Since 2014, a big screen was added to the south-east wave machine corner to include screen entertainment during the day and Dive-In Movies every Saturday night at 6pm between late December & January.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

The Taipan (October 1, 2007 to present) - The completion of the water masterplan & Australia's first (and I believe still only?) Dark Mammoth. There are 2 versions of the ride. This is the southern version and starts with the 1st drop unenclosed and finishes with an enclosed 90 degree turn. Also, note the ride-on photograph cameras to the right, which aren't available on the northern version. The northern version starts inside the mouth of the Taipan and concludes with a 360 degree turn at the end. You can see the ride's raft conveyor to the left. In the distance, is the park's eastern boundary - a fence separating the park from Jamberoo Road. I'm not sure which team but The Taipan was visited once by an NRL team. Taking a guess but maybe these visitors are players from the New Zealand Warriors? Happy to be corrected.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Funnel Web (viewed from it's observation deck) on it's opening/media day, 14th of December 2012. Staff members can be seen being the first to ride it for morning breakfast TV.

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Funnel Web & Banjo's Billabong (14th of December 2012 to present) - The world's longest Tornado ride ever built at the time (and still possibly I think?) located in the still under construction Kangaroo Island area, with Banjo's Billabong in the distance, the largest Rain Fortress in the Southern Hemisphere, both replaced Le Mans/Racing Cars (closed April 29, 2012)

As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

Banjo's Billabong (December 14, 2012 to present) - The largest Rain Fortress in the Southern Hemisphere, part of the Kangaroo Island area, which is still under construction, replaced Le Mans/Racing Cars (closed April 29, 2012), could cause replacement of Billabong Beach (September 10 2004 to present)As Jamberoo Action Park turns 40 Jim Eddy wants to know your favourite ride

The Perfect Storm (2016 to present) - part of the Kangaroo Island area, which is still under construction, replaced Le Mans/Racing Cars (closed April 29, 2012). The only WorldAlley in the world & has excellent theming with a simulated storm in the main funnel and exterior theming that for once makes a Tornado look like a real tornado.

An aerial view of how Jamberoo Action Park looks today.

A view of the western side of the park (taken in 2016 as The Perfect Storm's theming hasn't been fully added (though you can see the bus, outhouse, a couple of cows & a telegraph pole sitting there awaiting installation. The ute is already installed). You can also see the Funnel Web with it's Guinness World Record-breaking Funnel Web sculpture, which was installed in 2013. You can also see Banjo's Billabong around which is the faint outline of where Platypus River will one day (at this stage, no later than 2023) go, the (literal 5 metre high) top of The Rock (area) & the full Outback Bay precinct and the (from 1986) main park entrance/souvenir shop exit where outside awaits the main car park & it's many overflow carparks.

Looking forward: Jim Eddy looks back in 40 years at Jamberoo Action Park and plans forward for more major investments in new attractions over the next 10 to 15 years. Picture: Anna Warr.

Jim Eddy standing in front of the unoperational Banjo's Billabong (2012 to present) (off-season, particularly early due to COVID-19) (Photo taken June 2020)

Jim Eddy looks ahead to decades more action at Jamberoo. Picture: Anna Warr.

Jim Eddy standing in front of the completely-themed but unoperational Funnel Web & The Perfect Storm (finished construction in 2013 & 2017) (off-season, particularly early due to COVID-19) (Photo taken June 2020)

An artists impression of Koala Kove being built soon at Jamberoo Action Park.

An artists impression of Koala Kove being built soon (hopefully no later than 2022) at Jamberoo Action Park, replacing the original water attraction - the Splash Out area's pools, which opened in 1981. They were upgraded in the past decade to include a water log feature and an octopus slide feature, one in each pool respectively. Koala Kove is not part of the current Kangaroo Island development.

Artist impression of Grand Gorge Falls which will be the next major attraction built within a couple of years.

Artist impression of Grand Gorge Falls which will be the next major attraction built within a couple of years (hopefully no later than 2022), replacing the original water attraction - the Splash Out area's waterslides, which opened in 1981 as the 3rd waterslides built in Australia. Grand Gorge Falls is not part of the current Kangaroo Island development.

The Eddy Group Of Companies now include, apart from Jamberoo Action Park:

  • Belmore All-Suites Hotel (Jamberoo's own Sea World Resort though it's located 20km away in Wollongong like the rest of their companies). To the best of my knowledge, they have owned this hotel since before the mid-2000's.
  • City Beach Function Centre¬†- wasn't original owner but did buy it in recent years. I think he wanted to add a light show to the building. Located immediately next to Wollongong's Flagstaff Hill to the south on the northern end of Wollongong's South Beach.
  • Steamers Bar & Grill¬†- located in the same building as City Beach Function Centre.
  • Longboard Cafe - located in the same building as City Beach Function Centre.
Edited by Jamberoo Fan
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Looking forward to the future plans for Jamberoo. Its a shame council have had slight issues over the years though with the park. Good to know even though a delay has occurred in new attractions that we will still be getting them.

Just need a solid one or two flat rides now.

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4 hours ago, StingRay said:

Looking forward to the future plans for Jamberoo. Its a shame council have had slight issues over the years though with the park. Good to know even though a delay has occurred in new attractions that we will still be getting them.

Just need a solid one or two flat rides now.

They need to install the Alpine Coaster that they have had plans for and filed a DA for. This would be an Australian first and would be a very welcome addtion to Jamberoo's lineup!! The park's future is well assured - we have been visiting every year for the past 7 years and have never had a bad experience.  Great park!!

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