A self-described “working-class” Logan Village family is living the dream while running one of Australia’s biggest open-air water parks.
Matthew Devine, his wife Kristen and five children and grandchildren run Aquasplash in Redcliffe, all while living in the picturesque surrounds of Logan Village.
Their story is a long, but interesting one.
“We are a long-term Logan family, we’ve lived here for 20 years.
“We moved from Western Sydney in 2002 and we currently live at Logan Reserve on a five acre property. At the end of summer, we had all our gear blown up, so the property looks like an amusement park itself.
“A lot of people would probably recognise the house.”
The Devines started Aquasplash, the first open-air water park in Australia which opened on the Gold Coast in 2013 and stopped operating five years later.
“While we were running that, we were in extensive consultation with Moreton Bay Regional City and the State Government to bring the site to Redcliffe at Pelican Park.
“We were the first business in the country to be issued a permit to operate in a marine park, so that was a big deal.”
But, while opening a second waterpark in Redcliffe, trouble was brewing.
Matthew Devine alleges “Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate was a party to the decision to award the successful tender to a “left-field applicant” with “little-or-no experience in the field”
He also alleges that “connections with the winning tender and Gold Coast City Council staff were established but never fully pursued.”
“We opened at Redcliffe in 2018. That was obviously pre-COVID”
“In same year, we lost the Gold Coast business to what we believe was a dodgy tender process at a bowling club, so we moved to an aquaspace at Redcliffe
“In our last season of trading on the Gold Coast in 2018, we were busier than Surfers Paradise Beach.
“We had 1600 visitors a day and 150 lifeguards, it was a great success story, but Redcliffe has also been a success story.”
Despite the setback, the family has been able to build the large and successful business in Redcliffe at the Pelican Park site.
“It’s by far the best in the country, it smashes everything else and we’re cheaper as well.”
The park has several large inflatable obstacles, all of which are tied down by 17,000 lineal metres of 13 millimetre thick chain and twenty-seven 400 kilo steel plates, as, 40 one inch and a half thick bungees, because we’re operating in a tidal environment.
As with many businesses, COVID has proved to be troublesome for the family-operated business, but not quite in the way you would think.
“Our main problem with COVID has been communicating the message that the park is COVID safe.
“We want to get the message out there that AquaSplash is a COVID safe environment because of the sun, salt and sea.
“We want to encourage people to get outdoors, do outdoor activities. AquaSplash is perfect for that.
“It’s a great way to spend the school holidays.
Ex-tropical Cyclone Seth also had an impact on the business towards the end of last year.
“We were closed for two weeks from late December to early January.
That was massive for us. It cost us tens of thousands of dollars”
But, come rail, hail or shine, the Devine family are Logan at heart.
Wife Kristen heads up a local rugby league club, with one of the largest rates of female participation in Australia.
“My wife has been President of the Waterford Demons RLFC for five consecutive years now, unopposed. I was President there in 2013.
“Our kids attend Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge.
“We’ve got seven children, we were childhood sweethearts, we met in high school and have been married for 30 years.
“Five kids are involved in the running of the business. They range in age from five to thirty. Three of our grandchildren are older than our youngest daughter – “Auntie Grace”
“It’s a big family affair here, they’ve all played at the Waterford Demons. Grace is about to play.
Matthew hopes to see Logan residents making the journey up the Gateway Motorway in the future.
“There’s not many enclosures in Moreton Bay where people can swim. This is one of them, and we’re really proud of it.”