Wan­derer dares to dream

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sharon Small­wood For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.sto­ry­lan­den­ter­tain­ment.com or call Steve Wick­ett on 0419 722 060.

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.

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