The Manly Water Works (“now Surf N Slide”) site behind the former Sydney Sea Life Aquarium on West Esplanade Manly is up for sale – with vendors proposing a bold development on the site.
Vendor and Fairlight resident Mark Sullivan took the unorthodox approach of posting the businesses for sale via Facebook Marketplace at $950,000 – a space usually reserved for second hand toys and clothes.
“If no one buys it we will keeping going, we want to see the site reach its full potential. It took us a while to come to the decision to sell it because we thought ‘oh we can do this’, but we think it needs some fresh energy, it’s time for someone else to have a go” – waterworks owners
But it was just an adjunct to the formal sale currently being run by The Finn Group, which manages mergers and acquisitions.
Mark and his wife Tracey bought the site in 2016 and brought it back to life. Tracey told Manly Observer on Saturday the site was still in good condition as they had “done all the hard work basically” but admitted, “it’s a very old site and it’s really ready for someone to take it to the next level.”
We asked Tracey about their motivations for selling – were their plans blocked by Council? Financial issues or a lack of patronage? But Tracey said, “No, really it [improving and developing the site] all just took a lot longer than we thought. It’s five years on and Mark and I are five years older. If no one buys it we will keeping going, we want to see the site reach its full potential. It took us a while to come to the decision to sell it because we thought ‘oh we can do this’, but we think it needs some fresh energy, it’s time for someone else to have a go.”
Tracey said she and Mark had done a lot of work on the structure and managed to incorporate the neighbouring cafe Sliderz over a year ago before Covid hit.
“We have had all these designs drawn up but haven’t taken them to Council yet. Someone might like to put their own stamp on the place.”
Tracey said it was difficult originally trying to seek help from Council during the amalgamation in 2016 but they had received some good feedback and tweaked their designs since then, including removing the planned surf machine.
Whether or not a sale goes ahead, Tracey said they would be ready to reopen the water park in September. It costs a family of 4 $120 for two hours at the water park.
Tracey said until Covid hit patronage was pretty high and the site was a huge hit with children’s birthday parties. (You need to be 110cm or taller to ride, fyi.)
Director Steve Finn told us he had already received about 30 enquiries from in Australia and Internationally.
“Due to the unique nature of the business (being a waterpark!) a deal hasn’t been struck as yet, but we are expecting to see an outcome shortly and at that time the community will have a clearer picture of what the next phase will look like at this iconic site.”
The original Manly Waterworks opened in 1981 and gained fame when it was used by a young Nicole Kidman, who rode down a slide to escape chasers in BMX Bandits.
Mark Sullivan said the Sliderz Café, which was part o the sale, was fully newly fitted out 18 months ago, just before Covid hit.
“All equipment and fittings are new and stay with the business and part of proceeds will ensure the business is debt free,” he said.
“The waterpark had all new filters, pumps, heating and water balancing at the same time. Again all this new equipment stays with the business debt free. “Once in a life time business opportunity. Great to run as an owner operated business or take advantage of the designs to re-develop into something spectacular. Very few locations as good as this.”
“This iconic location can be a cash producing machine” reads the intro the Finn Group’s ad for the site.