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The Tamworth and Gunnedah regions are set to become international star-gazing tourist destinations, with the announcement of nearly $2 million in grant funding from the NSW Government’s Regional Tourism Activation Fund.

Member for Tamworth and Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said the $1,998,922 grant, awarded to Reflections Holiday Parks Lake Keepit, will deliver event and accommodation facilities to host iconic events with international appeal.

“Lake Keepit is a favourite destination for scores of locals and tourists who love to take in the scenic views, take a dip in the water or hook into a yellowbelly at Reflections,” Mr Anderson said

“This new star-gazing project aims to maximise one of the area’s biggest untapped advantages: clear star-studded dark skies and no light pollution,” Mr Anderson said.

 “It will also maximise the appeal of Lake Keepit, by making it a ‘super-star holiday park’ that will boost the State’s capacity to attract astronomy enthusiasts from not only across the country, but around the world.”

Reflections Holiday Parks will make a co-contribution of $499,977 to the project, bringing its total value to around $2.5 million.

The tourism grant will fund a star-gazing tent precinct and star baths with views to the night sky, telescopes and firepits, upgraded park facilities, commercial catering opportunities and outdoor dining and performances under the sky.

Improving the Crown land holiday park will help boost the local visitor and regional economy, by increasing local tourism and creating jobs.

The grant also means Reflections Lake Keepit will be able to cater for longer stays, events and festivals, school groups and coach tours – visitors who will support local cafes and restaurants, enjoy adventure and cultural tourism and return year after year.

 Reflections Holiday Parks’ CEO Nick Mr Baker said the ambitious star-gazing project would be a magnet for inter-state, international and domestic travellers. “Big Sky country needs a big sky experience, and this brings together astronomy, nature, outdoor dining and indigenous culture,” he said.

Mr Baker said the new facilities will be activated in collaboration with the local Gamilaraay people, the Tamworth Regional Astrological Society, local performing artists and local food and wine producers. “The event infrastructure will enable us to welcome guests for fine dining and performances under the starry skies, from hearing stories of the Zodiac, to learning about Aboriginal Culture and the Dreamtime,” he added.

“We estimate the new facilities could attract more than 45,000 visitors and around 6,200 visitor nights each year, contributing $1.675 million to the economy. This means additional economic benefit of nearly $610,000, and more than 8000 extra visitors and 1600 visitor nights annually.”

Reflections Holiday Parks is a Crown Land Manager and a social enterprise, reinvesting profits into the 9,289 hectares of Crown land it manages at 36 holiday parks and 43 community reserves across NSW.

Other recent improvements to the Lake Keepit holiday park include:

• A glamping tent precinct with 6 two-person tents, a communal firepit area with sandstone seating and landscaping. •

A $350,000 water treatment plant, $40,000 in road upgrades, and $50,000 refurbishment of premium chalet accommodation.

• Plans to establish an on-site fuel facility for visitors and their boats by early 2023.

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