MOREE mayor Katrina Humphries has made a splash in the new artesian bore baths, honouring an undertaking she hoped others would forget.
The Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre officially opened on Thursday night.
To mark the occasion, in the town’s 150th year, Cr Humphries yesterday had a morning dip, which she’d promised to do for the camera, fully clothed.
“I didn’t think anyone would hold me to the promise, but Paul (Mathews) did and I even had my earrings still in, but I was barefoot,” she said.
“The baths are beautiful and we are very, very proud of them.”
Although opening night was cold and windy, more than 200 people attended the event that marked the culmination of months of hard work and setbacks.
During construction, Moree was inundated by devastating floodwaters and the depth of one of the pools had to be altered after construction because it was too deep.
Cr Humphries said after all the challenges, the opening was a chance to thank everyone who helped with the project. The night also featured two special guests.
“It was very special because there has been a photo kicking around for 50 years from the Freedom Ride with Charles Perkins and five or six little boys at the pools,” Cr Humphries said.
“We had two of the men from the photo at the opening – Paul Raveneau and Roy Haines – and it was quite emotional for them.”
New England North West tourism representatives attended the opening and Cr Humphries said she believed in promoting the region, and that more visitors would come to Moree for the baths.
“People could do a tour of the North West over two weeks,” Cr Humphries said.
“They could start at the Mudgee vineyards, then to the zoo and Lightning Ridge and then through Moree to Inverell, Tamworth and back to Sydney again; it’s a terrific loop.”
Poet and writer Murray Hartin was the emcee for the evening, pianist Thomas Williams played and Ronnie O’Mullane performed a poem he wrote for the pools.
The health and wellness centre is expected to be open at the pools by the summer school holidays.
Moree children celebrated the opening of the pools with a fun day yesterday afternoon with unlimited rides on the water slide.
A time capsule was filled with local photos and histories from clubs, families and council to mark the town’s sesquicentenary. It will be opened in 50 years’ time.