Dundowran's Arkarra Tea Gardens being revived by new owners
THE once-popular Arkarra Tea Gardens, in Dundowran, sat dilapidated since the business collapsed some years ago.
In a win for Hervey Bay tourism, new owners Julie and Jody Reid are set to bring the iconic tourist attraction back to life.
The Hervey Bay couple took over the two-acre sanctuary in Panorama Dr seven weeks ago and have already started the arduous task of cleaning up the property that was in desperate need of some TLC.
Although they were disappointed in the area's condition on first inspection, Mrs Reid is confident in its future potential after experiencing the joy of taking her children there when they were young.
"We know it's going to take a bit of work, but we're prepared for that," Mrs Reid said.
"We were disappointed that it had gone so far but we remember the potential that was there before," she said.
"We really love the setting and the atmosphere.
"We're still very happy and keen and it certainly hasn't put us off."
With an aim of restoring its Tea Garden past, the property's layout will remain much the same but Ms Reid said the coffee shop and surrounding tea garden area would see some changes.
"The grounds will pretty much stay with re-established gardens.
"With the building, internally we will virtually be gutting it and very much giving it a whole new face lift.
"We'll be keeping the walking tracks past the Bali huts and we may even add one more in with a parking area down the back."
She said the most important aspect of the renovations was being able to offer guests a relaxed experience in a natural setting.
"That's how I remember it and what I enjoyed about it so we want to have a nice little cafe that people feel is a place where they can come and enjoy the environment and have a little bit of time out.
"A lot of people do have that fond memory of it so that's all I really want.
"We'll just have a simple cafe with nice meals, a nice setting and just be nice and relaxing for everyone - myself included," she laughed.
Mrs Reid said the community's response to their plans had been positive so far, with talks already in motion with local birdwatching groups.
"I've already met with the birdwatchers and their quite hopeful and positive about getting a relationship happening again.
"The general feedback from the community has been quite positive for us so far."
The couple hope to open by Easter next year.