I’ve heard there was a cost blow-out to build the aquatic centre, is that true?

    There has been no “cost blow-out” on the aquatic centre. 

    Council entered into a fixed-price contract with Woollam Constructions for $75.8 million. 

    While Council made some early projected cost estimates for the project, as with any major construction project, full costs are not known until detailed designs are complete and tenders are received, particularly in the current economic climate.

    The project was originally proposed to be completed in stages. Council has made the decision to complete all stages of this project at once to achieve economies of scale and take advantage of relatively low interest rates to spread the cost of the project over a significant portion of the asset’s useful life.

     Furthermore, some comparisons have been made to the price of the aquatic centre currently under construction and the estimates of early concept designs which do not reflect the size, scale or significance of the project being delivered. 

    What if the contractor goes over budget?

     Every construction contract involves an element of risk for the contractor and the principal (the owner). As part of the procurement process, Council targeted the largest and most experienced contractors to ensure that the financial and project risks of such a large project could be properly managed.  

    Woollam is Queensland’s oldest privately-owned building company and has the experience, skills and financial capacity required to successfully deliver a project of this scale and complexity. 

     The project risk is apportioned and managed through the use of Australian Standard contracts and legal documents.  

    Similarly, the contractor manages its risks by engaging with suppliers and subcontractors through standardised legal contracts. 

    How can a pool cost so much to build?

    The Bundaberg Aquatic Centre is much more than just a pool. 

    It’s a state-of-the-art facility which meets many needs of a growing community from learn-to-swim, rehabilitation and disability access to world-class training and competition. 

    There will be three pools, a 50 m FINA standard Olympic pool, an indoor lap pool also suitable for learn-to-swim and aqua aerobics programs and a warm water program pool to accommodate activities including learn-to-swim, aqua aerobics and water-based physiotherapy.

     An on-site café, shop and central courtyard will value-add to the complex. 

    Several multipurpose and hire rooms are included. The successful operator of the facility will be able to make them available for a range of out of pool activities, which are yet to be determined, such as class-based training associated with the pool, for example CPR and life guard qualifications.

    Will the Bundaberg Aquatic Centre cater for people of all abilities?


    The new Bundaberg Aquatic Centre will have three accessible pools, including lifts, ramps and ladders. In addition, the 25m and warm program pool will also have a hoist. The centre will also have one accessible adult change space with a ceiling hoist. There will also be a second ceiling hoist in one of the accessible toilets.

    Will it cater for other water sports?


    In additional to swimming, the 50m x 10 lane pool will be 2 metres depth for the entire length of the pool, allowing for underwater hockey, water polo and many other water sports.

    How will the centre be funded?

    By Bundaberg Regional Council and the Queensland Government.   

    Council has received a Queensland Government grant of $13 million. 

    Council will also continue to apply for Australian Government funding; however the project will be delivered by early 2025.

    Did Council borrow money to build the pool because it can’t afford to deliver this project?

    Council is strategically borrowing funds to deliver the aquatic centre to spread the cost of the project over about 20 years. 

    Ratepayers of today will not be the only ratepayers to benefit from the delivery of the aquatic centre given its long-term benefits and therefore it makes sense that the ratepayers that benefit from the facility contribute to the facility. 

    The project also received a $13 million funding boost from the State Government’s Works for Queensland project.

    Why was the Walker Street site selected for an aquatic centre if it used to be a landfill?

    The Bundaberg Aquatic Centre site on Walker Street will create a high-performance sports precinct after extensive research identified it as the best location for the facility. 

    The choice of location has created some community speculation given its historic use as a Council waste facility. 

    However Bundaberg Regional Council has undertaken several studies over the course of recent years which revealed the Walker Street location was ideally situated and any environmental concerns could be appropriately managed. 

    The outcome of the studies was that the location was well connected, strategically located alongside like facilities and would actually benefit the environmental outcomes of the former use of the site by improving the capping of the historic landfill. 

    Were other sites considered?

    In 2019 an options assessment was undertaken to identify potential aquatic centre site locations. 

    A total of 13 potential sites were included in the assessment, analysed in terms of size, physical or infrastructure constraints, planning requirements, community activation and catchment and accessibility. 

    The final report concluded that the Walker Street location, on the site of the old showgrounds, was the preferred location due to its proximity to the Multiplex, with the added advantage and cost saving of already being owned by Council. 

    “Based on a balanced assessment of the issues, the Old Show Ground Site is presented as the preferred option,” the report said. 

    “The ability to leverage from the existing investment into sporting facilities and complement this with a regional scale aquatic centre is compelling. 

    “It has good accessibility to the CBD, located on a main road with good connectivity with surrounding communities and importantly offers a precinct-based outcome.  

    “The ability to leverage from the investment made in [the] Multiplex site offers the ability to create a strongly branded precinct for Bundaberg which will have regional and potentially state level significance.  

    “The clustering of facilities, including the conference centre, offers a versatile platform from which a range of state level events could be held.” Following extensive deliberations, the site was accepted by Council and, having identified the preferred site for the Bundaberg Aquatic Centre, initial concept designs were created.

    How has the former landfill been considered in the design of the aquatic centre?

    Given that the preferred location was the site of a former waste facility, Council’s next step was to conduct an environmental investigation. 

    Undertaken in 2020, the investigation was able to draw from previous studies undertaken on the site in 2001 and 2013. 

    The results of a series of tests confirmed there were no impediments to the construction of the aquatic facility on this site and also provided the parameters for the structural design of the aquatic centre. 

    A further environmental investigation in 2021 provided an in-situ landfill waste characterisation to support the disposal of any material removed from the site and to assist with the design of landfill gas mitigation measures for the buildings. 

    On the new aquatic centre site, the buildings and pools will be founded on driven concrete piles, which will ensure that the weight of the pools and the building will not be supported by the landfill.  

    These piles range in length, with some being up to 18 m long.  

    The environmental investigations undertaken indicate the maximum depth of the landfill is around 5 m deep.  

    While a detailed design was not completed for any of the other sites, driven piles would almost certainly have been required at any site due to the weight of the pools and the highly reactive nature of the soil found throughout the region.  

    The design consultants for the Bundaberg Aquatic Centre were selected based on their experience delivering similar facilities on sites that have been former landfills or contaminated sites.  

    The aquatic centre design has lifted the finished level of the pool to minimise the amount of waste that needs to be excavated.  

    Council stockpiled material onsite from other Council projects to significantly reduce project costs and assist with the bulk earthworks to see almost 3 m of fill in some parts of the site.  

    The environmental investigations allowed Council to gain an understanding of the landfill material and the State Government confirmed the excavated material, due to its being removed from a former landfill site into a new landfill site, is exempt from the State Government Waste Levy.  

    To mitigate any landfill gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide which can be produced by former landfills, the project will include membranes and ventilation under building structures to manage any existing landfill gas. 

    Overall, the project will improve the capping of the former landfill.  

    The project also includes High Energy Impact Compaction to some of the site focussing around the new carparks, similar to the process for the Multiplex overflow carpark.