Wanderer dares to dream
STEVE Wickett has a plan to “dream, inspire and create” and his current focus is the presently derelict ‘Wanderers’ site in the heart of Airlie Beach.
The former film production student has taken out a lease option on the site and has grand plans for a Whitsunday entertainment quarter and nature park.
Under this plan, he would use, revamp and add to the existing infrastructure to create a vibrant hub including a fully licensed theatre restaurant, film-making and production facilities, tennis courts, minigolf, accommodation and more. Incorporated into this would be a wildlife park run by the family of ‘Barefoot Bushman’ Rob Bredl and Australia’s first ever ‘Mermaid Academy’ titled ‘Mermaids of the Whitsundays’.
Mr Wickett’s idea for establishing film production facilities and a film, musical and theatrical society on site, stems from his own experiences while studying film production some years ago in Byron Bay. It was during this time he realised Australia’s film industry wasn’t large enough to employ all those who aspired to such careers leaving a pool of creative talent that would eventually go to waste.
Furthermore, Mr Wickett believes the former Wanderers resort is the perfect site.
“There’s quite a number of income streams on this site and the profits we make from that will be turned over to creative projects and that’s the key to this whole business,” he said.
“The core principle is to develop the arts in the Whitsundays and from a tourism point of view, which is Airlie Beach’s main industry, it’s to develop the nature park.”
Mr Wickett said the Bredl family would be perfect in this role running daily crocodile, snake and lizard shows, for which he said the area was currently ‘zoned’.
He also elaborated on his idea for the ‘Mermaids of the Whitsundays’ as an interactive show where children or adults could “put on a mermaid tail, swim around in the pool and learn about the underwater eco system and how they can play a part in maintaining that”.
Ambitious though this may be and although Mr Wickett is far from achieving his funding goal of $500,000, he is determined it’s what the area needs. “It’s a great project for the area and we as a community – we can achieve something quite extraordinary if we work together and make this project come to fruition,” he said.
Mr Wickett is now in the process of developing a business plan to present to potential investors in the coming weeks.
GRAND PLANS: Entrepreneur Steve Wickett (centre) with Mermaids of the Whitsundays in training Annie Grunwald and Amy Barlow (left and right) at the Wanderers site in Airlie Beach where Mr Wickett would like to establish a Whitsunday entertainment quarter and nature park.