Manly tourism: Biggest sites are facing changes

BIG CHANGES: Q Station, Manly Surf n Slide and the former Sea Life aquarium could all see major changes. Pictures: Supplied, Geoff Jones
BIG CHANGES: Q Station, Manly Surf n Slide and the former Sea Life aquarium could all see major changes. Pictures: Supplied, Geoff Jones

CHANGES are on the way for some of Manly's most well known tourist sites - the former aquarium, Q Station and Surf n Slide.

The sale of the leasehold for Q Station hit the market on the weekend, with the site expected to attract interest from international hotel chains.

Worth up to $20 million, the lease is for a 30-hectare site which includes, a 105-room hotel, multiple food and beverage outlets and expansive grounds with sweeping views overlooking Sydney Harbour.

In the past, Q Station has played host to Baz Luhrmann's blockbuster The Great Gatsby and Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge, and the acquisition of the site is a "once in a lifetime" opportunity, listing agent, CBRE Hotels director Tom Gibson, said.

"We anticipate deep and wide interest from astute investors and operators seeking a foothold in Sydney's tourism and leisure market on Sydney Harbour," he said.

ICONIC: The sprawling Q-Station occupies a prominent position on Sydney's North Head. Pictures: Supplied

ICONIC: The sprawling Q-Station occupies a prominent position on Sydney's North Head. Pictures: Supplied

A decision on the abandoned Manly aquarium, which closed down in January 2018, is also looming, with council calling on the site to be demolished and turned into public open space.

In its Manly West Esplanade Heritage Activation Plan, council said "demolition will unblock the view of the State Heritage listed Pavilion building" and improve safety in the area at night.

The former Sea Life attraction is owned by the NSW Government, and Manly MP James Griffin said remediation works had been conducted to get the site ready for its next stage of life.

The MP said with submissions for the site to open soon, its future is yet to be determined and it could become a new tourist attraction.

CHANGES: Public consultation will soon be open to determine the future of former Sea Life aquarium. Picture: Geoff Jones

CHANGES: Public consultation will soon be open to determine the future of former Sea Life aquarium. Picture: Geoff Jones

"If there are appropriate reuses for the building that's something that will be considered," he said. "My personal preference is for open space and parkland, rarely do we get the opportunity to create open space and parkland on the world's best harbour."

Transport for NSW (Maritime) executive director maritime Mark Hutchings said the former aquarium and Manly Wharf 3 were included in the government's $205 million for maritime infrastructure and safety upgrades.

"This funding will be used to upgrade and improve accessibility at Manly Wharf 3 and to prepare the former Manly Sea Life site, owned Transport for NSW, for its future use," he said.

"Transport for NSW is currently talking to stakeholders about this work and will invite the community for input on the proposed designs for this work later this year."

ON THE MARKET: Manly Surf n Slide is up for sale and the site has attracted domestic and international interest. Picture: Geoff Jones

ON THE MARKET: Manly Surf n Slide is up for sale and the site has attracted domestic and international interest. Picture: Geoff Jones

Meanwhile, the sale of Manly Surf n Slide has attracted 30 enquiries from Australia and overseas, listing agent Steve Finn from The Finn Group said.

"It's been difficult for them to get in a position to make a decision," he said. "At the moment we are still taking enquiries from potential investors, and hopefully we'll have a clearer picture soon as to the future of the site."

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