Perth could shoot the rapids
Stewart Cranswick. Picture: The West Australian/Nic Ellis

A Zimbabwean-born hotelier wants to build a multimillion- dollar world-class whitewater park in Perth.

He has the drive and the money - he just needs the land.

Stewart Cranswick - who once ran whitewater adventure tours on the Zambezi River above Victoria Falls - said he could build the park for $10 million.

Ideally, he would build a $7 million to $9 million four-star hotel alongside.

His preferred site is land south-east of Challenge Stadium, which is currently vested in the Department of Sport and Recreation.

But the department has raised concerns about this site so, with Canoeing WA, Mr Cranswick is looking across the city for other suitable 4ha sites.

"Building the park next to Challenge Stadium - in that sporting precinct - is our preferred site … it would be perfect," Mr Cranswick said.

"And we're not asking for a cent from anyone - they are looking a gift horse in the mouth."

The park would include an Olympic-standard 500m course. Water could come from the ocean.

Essentially it would be a leisure venue, with "add-ons" such as a paddling pool and climbing wall.

The only other whitewater park in Australia is in Penrith in NSW. It was built for the Sydney Olympics. A park in Cardiff in Wales attracts about 180,000 tourists every year.

"If cold and cloudy Cardiff can sustain a popular whitewater park, imagine what warm and sunny Perth could do," Mr Cranswick said.

Canoeing WA executive officer Rosalie Evans said a whitewater park would be a great boost for Perth, providing a venue for elite canoeists and kayakers, tourists and emergency services for fast-water rescue training.

She said a city whitewater park was promised by the State Government when the Harvey Dam was built in 2002, robbing paddlers of a whitewater venue.

Sport and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron said the State Government was working closely with Canoeing WA to examine options for an alternative location for the park.

"I understand that the department is preparing to engage a planning consultant to further refine the site requirements and identify potential locations," he said. "The State Government will continue to engage with stakeholders, including proponents such as Mr Cranswick."

Mr Cranswick owns hotels in Zimbabwe and runs Wild Bush Luxury, which has several eco-friendly tourist accommodation sites around Australia, including Sal Salis near Ningaloo Reef in WA's Cape Range National Park.

The West Australian

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