Spa leads to a healthy economy

Booringa Shire Council in South West Queensland has taken an innovative step to ensure economic security for the Shire through its natural assets. The Great Artesian Spa, opened in April 1998, in the town of Mitchell, capitalises on a unique feature of the Shire.

Namely, its underground artesian bore water that flows from 1,000 metres beneath the ground to surface at the comfortable temperature of 45 degrees Celsius. Council has constructed a recreation complex around the spa. It includes two hydro massage spa pools set in landscaped surrounds, a Natural Therapy Room and, for diversity, the Healthy Byte Internet Cafe.

The aim of the development is to expand the Shire's economic base from traditional primary industries and tap into the tourist market. It also increases local amenity, Internet access and youth employment opportunities.

While Council, with some assistance from external funding bodies, funded the project, the complex is a whole of community initiative. A community reference group was formed to give direct creative input into the design for the spa.

Local resources from the Shire were used in the spa's construction including local pine and hardwood timbers and pebbles for the spa walls. Local artists designed and constructed the art components, including the decorative security fence and three dimensional art work in the interior of the Healthy Byte Internet Cafe.

The latter combines healthy living with the second biggest growth market in the 90s, the Internet. Federal funding of $95,000 from Networking the Nation allowed Council to become an Internet service provider and equip the Cafe. This brought the cost of Internet use in line with metropolitan areas and encourages greater access by the whole community.

Economic Development Officer, Tanya Mansfield, said an added benefit of the Cafe is that it has transformed an under used resource of Council, the bar area of the Mitchell Shire Hall, into an income generating tourist attraction. The complex also operates as a youth enterprise providing up to 12 jobs for young people in the Shire.

"It has successfully expanded the variety and volume of employment available within the Shire and has helped reduce the numbers of young people leaving the Shire for the city in search of work," Tanya said.

For further information contact Tanya Mansfield, telephone (07) 4623 1133.