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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Matt Carr

The $25 million 'glamping' plan to transform Walka Water Works

Maitland City Council, the state government and Reflections Holiday Parks have lodged a $25 million joint bid to transform Walka Water Works. File picture

CARAVAN and camping accommodation could take shape at Walka Water Works under a $25 million bid to transform the landmark.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin on Tuesday announced the state government, Maitland City Council and Reflections Holiday Parks were seeking Regional Tourism Activation Fund cash for the 64-hectare Crown reserve.

The council closed the site in February due to asbestos, but has flagged a potential partial re-opening in November.

"This plan aims to restore Walka Water Works to its former glory and invest in additional improvements that can make it a tourism magnet for the Hunter Valley, he said.

The council and state would remediate, restore and upgrade the site before Reflections Holiday Parks, which operates Crown land holiday parks, adds 10 eco-cabins, 12 glamping tents and 40 powered caravan sites.

Walking trails would be upgraded, with the pump house and chimney restored and redevelopment of the miniature railway.

Maitland Mayor Philip Penfold said other upgrades could be pursued later, with the upgrade offering a chance to connect many of the city's attractions.

"Maitland welcomes 870,000 visitors a year spending $123 million but we can unlock much more by investing in unique heritage assets like Walka Water Works to diversify tourism," Cr Penfold said.

"Importantly, we want to connect Walka Water Works with other priority destinations through shared pathways, like Central Maitland ... and historic Morpeth."

Reflections Holiday Parks CEO Nick Baker said Walka Water Works would cater well to special events and nature tourists.

Walka Water Works has great character and Maitland could be a hero destination offering heritage, rural and natural attractions with scenic beauty, unique villages and flagship events within easy reach of Sydney, the Central Coast, Hunter and Port Stephens, Mr Baker said.

Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said the plan offered the historic site an exciting future.

This could transform Walka Water Works into a multi-dimensional recreation, accommodation, hospitality and event precinct that would boost visitor numbers, attract more major events and support local jobs and the economy while celebrating its rich history, Mr Anderson said.

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