Murwillumbah's Mark Robinson will put his skills to the test during the Banana Festival Tweed River Spectacular.
Murwillumbah's Mark Robinson will put his skills to the test during the Banana Festival Tweed River Spectacular. Larissa Nicholson

Festival takes to water

THE current national barefoot water ski-ing champion Pete O'Neill is among the stars to appear at the Tweed Valley Banana Festival's Tweed River Spectacular on Sunday afternoon.

A group of skiers and water sports enthusiasts have volunteered with water sports clubs from across the shire to put on the Tweed River Spectacular which was born out of a smaller, initial river event last year.

Organiser and Banana Festival Committee member Carol Robinson said it was hoped the event would be a regular part of the Banana Festival offering the community top-class, free entertainment on a seldom-admired stretch of the river in the heart of Murwillumbah.

“Last year it was called the Aquatic Carnival.

“This year we have changed the name to the Tweed River Spectacular hoping it will be an annual or bi-annual event.

“We will have two ski shows with professional skiers. They all used to ski at Sea World on the Gold Coast.

“We have also got some jet skiers coming down and a dragon boat as well.

“The day is for the community. We want people to bring along a blanket, sit back and enjoy the day.

“Normally people would pay to see this sort of thing.

“The skiers are all volunteering their time and a thank you to the Riverview Hotel and Tong's Thai restaurant who will be looking after the water skiers.”

Ms Robinson said the other performers on the day were also volunteering their services and hoping to promote their clubs.

Ms Robinson had been part of the water-ski show last year and this year joined the Banana Festival Committee believing the “beautiful river” could be used more.

“If we can use it one day of the year to entertain the community, that is not a bad thing,” she said.

For the event, the town stretch of the Tweed River - from the Murwillumbah Rowing Club to the town bridge - is to be closed to all other vessels from 9am to 2pm under conditions of an aquatic licence issued by NSW Maritime.

“Some of the activities that will be happening on the day are out of the ordinary,” said Ms Robinson.

“You are not normally allowed to do the activities on the river because they are a little more dangerous.”

National barefoot water ski champion Pete O'Neill is ranked fifth in the world and promises to amaze the crowd with what he can do when his feet hit the water at high speed. Ms Robinson said she hoped the roar of the ski racing and jet sprint boats would excite people and “get your heart racing”.

She said the “amazing freestyle tricks of the jet skiers” should have everyone on edge.

And if the kids need a break from the riverside, they would be able to head into the adjacent Budd Park for some rock climbing, face- painting, balloon-twisting, pony rides and a free jumping castle.

“There will also various sporting exhibitors stocked with bargains and boats on display for you to look at,” she said.

The day will wrap up at 2 pm but the Riverview Hotel will host Ray Cat until early evening.

River Spectacular • Runs from 10am to 2pm • Can be viewed from the eastern banks of the Tweed River including Budd Park at South Murwillumbah • The entertainment includes Ski Racing, Freestyle Jet Skiing, Jet Sprint Boats, Dragon Boats and Water Ski Shows. • The Ski Show will feature past water skiers from Sea World as well as the current National Barefoot Champion, Pete O'Neill. • Kids activities include rock climbing, face painting, balloon twisting, pony rides and a free jumping castle.

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