Gympie tourism 'needs more horsepower'
IT'S not all about the horses.
Jimmy Barnes could have used it as well.
And the tourism and hospitality industries would be among the big winners if they jump on the horse-drawn wagon now being proposed by Gympie region horse sport fans and organisers.
"Build it and they will come," was the strongly backed argument for a regional indoor equestrian, entertainment and event centre at Gympie Showgrounds.
Gympie Pony Club president Tracy Salter said the recent Jimmy Barnes concert to help mark Gympie's 150th birthday could have been held indoors, without any concern about rain or damage to the Albert Park sports fields, "with tiered seating for 3000 to 5000 people and the rest standing in the centre area."
And it is not just because Kilkivan is getting one, organisers insisted.
"Kilkivan has a swimming pool, and Gympie has an aquatic centre to bring together all the facilities in smaller centres in the region," she said.
About 60 equestrian enthusiasts of all kinds met at the club's Jane St grounds on a discouragingly wet Sunday afternoon to press for a centre which they said could be a big factor in Gympie's event-based tourism future.
""It's a good project," Mayor Mick Curran told the meeting, adding that the council was keen to promote events. "11,500 people turned up at the Jimmy Barnes concert.
"The motels were full, the hotels were full, the eateries were full," he said.
"These facilities don't go unused," Tracy Salter said.
Another speaker pointed out that Nambour's indoor equestrian event centre was already booked out to September next year.
"And you can't get in at Burpengary," she said.
LNP Gympie candidate and incumbent state MP Tony Perrett said a detailed plan, drawn up at the instigation of well known horse enthusiast and former Gympie Show president Lars Hedberg had been shelved after effectively being eclipsed by the ill-fated plan for a quarter horse racing centre at Bollier Park.
He urged equestrian enthusiasts to "own and control" the project for the community and to get their plans to the "shovel ready" stage.
There were grants available and it would be the council's role to support and help prepare the applications, but the community had to have its plans ready, he said.