Hovercraft hooning these holidays
POP star Jamiroquai used one in a music video, Pierce Brosnan as James Bond rode one in a Die Another Day chase sequence and Rupert Grint, Harry Potter's Ron, apparently owns one.
The quirky amphibious hovercraft were invented by Christopher Cockerell in 1956 and now they are at the heart of a brand new thrill attraction at Caboolture.
Emma Pullen owns Flying Fish Hovercraft and has transformed the old go-kart site on the corner of the Bruce Highway and Pumicestone Road into a wet and dry HoverCross track, complete with refurbished clubhouse.
She is no stranger to the bizarre craft. Her father-in-law has been building them for more than a decade and ran a similar hovercraft events business in the UK town of Sandwich.
Emma moved to the Coast with her photographer husband Russ and two-year-old last year, after falling in love with the region on honeymoon.
The Caboolture attraction officially opens on December 28 and will cost $195 for up to four people who can share a hovercraft (only one driver at a time) per hour. There are also rides with instructors that cost $30 for five. It takes an average of one minute and 15 seconds to go around the track and the craft have a maximum speed of 70 kmh.
“It is just great fun,” Mrs Pullen said.
“They are great little toys. The thrill of coming on and off water is amazing – you scream like a big girl and get this massive grin.
“We will have a fastest lap board going up soon and we hope to get a lot of locals and tourists regularly coming back to try and beat their times.
“We believe it is the only place in the southern hemisphere where you can ride these hovercraft.”
She said they were a challenge to drive and completely different to steering a car, with motorcyclists and helicopter pilots picking it up quickly and even a lady without a car licence holding the record for the fastest lap time in the UK for more than a year.
There will be an age limit of 17 and a weight limit of 200 kilograms on each of the hovercraft, which are powered by a four-stroke Briggs & Stratton (petrol) engine.
“They are the most environmentally sound water craft out there but they have a bad name and people think they do so much damage,” Mrs Pullen said.
“They use six litres of fuel per hour, they have no wash, no exhaust and they exert the same pressure on the ground as a seagull standing on one leg.
“We are really out there to re-educate people and get them out there doing something fun on weekends.”
All rides must be pre-booked via the www.flyingfishhovercraft.com.au website, and craft can also be purchased by individuals, with the standard model costing $28,000 including a trailer and importing.
She said while no one on the Coast has ordered one, many have been shipped to people in Mackay who use them to monitor their properties during flooding.
Others have been sold to Malaysia, Finland and Germany, favoured by yacht owners who can travel easily between the beach and their boats.
She praised the Moreton Bay Council for rushing through a 12-month temporary permit allowing them access to the site, as well as the site owners DGS Property Group from Brisbane.