Community finds $1.3m for Arkarra

FUNDRAISING to buy Hervey Bay's iconic Arkarra Tea Gardens and open them again to the public is on the boil - with more than 100 residents wanting to be part of the project.

Organiser Elaine Mills has done her accounting and come up with the figure of $1.3 million to buy the neglected property and recreate the tea gardens through a community trust.

“More than 70 people turned up at our home on the weekend for our first meeting and since then the phone just keeps ringing as more want to get involved,” she said.

“I really think now that resurrecting Arkarra is possible.”

But Ms Mills may have competition to buy the $460,000 property that is in receivership and listed with Elders Real Estate in the Bay.

“I've heard a councillor here is also interested in buying Arkarra.”

Ms Mills met with Mayor Mick Kruger on October 5 and says he was positive about the project.

The council has also written to Ms Mills outlining what would need to be done to the property to get it open again.

“The nine Balinese gazebos have to be demolished, the council says. And there is confusion over how many seats we can have. So far they're saying a maximum of 10, which isn't viable of course. If a bus comes in you're looking at maybe 40 people.”

Infrastructure costs are set so far at $73,000. Cleaning up and making the property safe would cost about $200,000. Effluent and seating costs would come to about $300,000 and there are back rates owing of $12,500.

“Then we've got to have enough behind us to operate and after 18 months we will know where we're heading.”

Friends of Arkarra leader and environmentalist John Eggleston said the 14.8ha council-owned lagoons and walking tracks next to the tea house were “going from strength to strength”.

“(The) council will eventually need to put in boardwalks and bridges but meanwhile it would be a terrible shame if the restaurant doesn't reopen. Up to 1000 people a week used to come through there and enjoy the birdlife but now we're getting maybe half a dozen and that's a tragedy.”

The Chronicle asked the council to provide details of what it requires to reopen the tea gardens but none has been received.

Read more about Arkarra Tea Gardens.

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