THE founders of Carsales.com and Jayco Caravans have made a minor play in the Melbourne tourism market with the $4.65 million acquisition of Gumbaya Park, an amusement park near Pakenham in the city's south-east.
Jayco's Gerry Ryan, who is worth an estimated $370 million, and Carsales' Wal Pisciotta have joined forces in the joint venture which will see a major upgrade of the property.
Gumbaya Park, which was developed in 1978 by Italian immigrant the late Ron Rado, has a land area of 166.26ha and features amusement rides, water slides and a mini golf course.
It also houses 300 animals, largely native fauna such as dingoes, cockatoos, wombats and koalas.
The partners are planning a broad upgrade of the tourist attraction, including a revamp of the function centre and the development of new accommodation facilities.
"The buyers will look to introduce new attractions and some accommodation, helping bring the park back to its former glory," says CBRE's David Minty, who negotiated the sale with colleagues Duncan McCulloch and James Beer.
"A change of hands of this iconic park will ensure it remains one of Melbourne's most popular, small-scale amusement parks, frequented by both local residents and interstate visitors."
Gumbaya Park was originally established as a pheasant farm by Rado, who later converted it into a wildlife park. He added a restaurant in 1981.
The property was sold by a group of private investors, which included members of the Rado family.
Ryan, a co-owner of Melbourne Storm, has extensive business interests, including resorts, wineries and online retail. He still retains ownership of Jayco which he established in 1975.
Pisciotta co-founded Carsales in 1996 before floating it on the ASX in 2009 for $800 million.
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