Thursday 30 October 2014


Penny Royal Complex Redevelopment

[11.04 a.m.]

Mr FINCH (Rosevears)- Mr President, the Black Rod suggested I should be given extra minutes because I am a regular customer.

With the vastly different timing, Matthew Brady, who spent a little time on the West Tamar in the early 1820s, could have been a constituent of the Legislative Council division of Rosevears. I am not sure bushrangers were enfranchised, however, as the only reference to Matthew is Brady's Lookout, which is in my electorate. Brady, and John Batman who captured him, will be the subject of a so-called dark ride and that will be an attraction at Launceston's redeveloped Penny Royal complex.

The Penny Royal - and many of you would have visited it over the years and we have it as that visual icon in my electorate - was built 36 years ago by entrepreneur Roger Smith. It used to have 1 000 visitors a day, as Tasmania's only theme park, but it could be said that it became very tired and deteriorated over the years. However, all that is about to change, with approval this week from the Launceston City Council for a big reconstruction of the Penny Royal. Tenders are to be called in January for the construction of restaurants, bars, cafes, a cellar door, a whiskey distillery, member for Windermere, and a brewery, and more.

It will become yet another tourist attraction in my electorate. The JAC Group is behind the new development and its founder, Josef Chromy, told the council his vision was to bring additional commerce to Launceston through the project. The Examiner newspaper quoted Mr Chromy saying:

Two years back, in Hobart, I was looking at the MONA museum and everyone was saying we have to go to Hobart, we have to see the museum, then I am thinking what to do in Launceston. My wish was that something, if possible, is created here.

That is our visionary, Josef Chromy. The managing director of JAC Group, Dean Cocker, says, 'the development will be an adventure precinct on steroids' and it is hoped it will be finished for Josef Chromy's birthday on 18 December next year when he will be 85.

Ms Forrest - I hope Dean sings at it.

Mr FINCH - He does have a wonderful voice. I was in a musical with Dean many years ago.

Launceston's Mayor, Albert van Zetten - newly re-elected and congratulations to Albert - says 'the adventure precinct will be great for tourism.'. As the brochure says, the reconstructed Penny Royal 'will be the premier food, wine and adventure precinct in the Tamar Valley. This new precinct will offer an amazing range of local food and beverages, as well as thrilling adventure activities on the edge of Launceston's iconic natural attraction, the Cataract Gorge.'

I attended a preview event last week and learnt of the proposed developments including the chairlift and some very advanced cliff climbing activities. We were able to view a big crane doing all the checking of the rocks and putting 420 pins in to secure the rocks at the cliff face. That is going to be a very exciting development for people to climb over that cliff face.

Dean Cocker, when showing us around, highlighted the fact that there are going to be 20 cannons installed. I remember when my eldest son Brian was born, we had a 21 gun salute so I must point out to Dean Cocker that he will to have to get an extra gun to fire off the cannons at the Penny Royal.

It was with a mixture of sadness and elation that I went through because it is very tired, it is very dilapidated but how exciting that we are going to have this dark ride, a special feature at the Penny Royal and it is going to come to life. Roger Smith, the original entrepreneur who developed it, is back on board with the JAC Group to oversee the development. What is to be done next year should put the Penny Royal complex on track to returning to its big visitor numbers of 30 years ago. I certainly hope so.

Members - Hear, hear.