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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Skydive Nagambie makes the big jump

A lot of time and effort has gone into the Bailieston drop zone, which was officially opened on Saturday.

CHALPAT SONTI March 13, 2014 10:02am

There's nothing quite like the thrill of a skydive.


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It’s been a long battle — thanks to a detour through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal — but Skydive Nagambie’s new facility promises to be a breath of fresh air for the sport.

The Don and Louise Cross owned company opened its new drop zone at Olivers Rd, Bailieston, on Saturday evening. And apart from some great skydiving displays — and a ribbon-cutting with a difference — it was a time to reflect on a journey began in 2000.

That was when Mr and Mrs Cross took over the company, which has been based at Kirwans Bridge and done well there. So why move?

‘‘That was a renovated farm which served its purpose and allowed us to grow,’’ Mr Cross said.

‘‘But we just couldn’t give our customers the quality of experience they required. Louise and I are keen sport skydivers ourselves and we just knew we had to provide something better.’’

And that they have, spending a ‘‘couple of million’’ on fitting out the new property, which is on 141ha.

‘‘We’ve built our own airfield, and the whole facility is purpose built,’’ Mr Cross said.

That includes caravan parking, accommodation huts, a licensed bar and a canteen to come.

‘‘It’s only phase one. Upstairs we’re going to be building more offices.’’

The company employs six full-time staff and 26 subcontractors, pouring what Mr Cross estimated as ‘‘plenty’’ into nearby Nagambie’s economy.

It also offers a complete skydiving experience at the facility, unlike many operations which have pared back to purely doing tandem jumps.

And that was a point not lost on Australian Parachute Federation chief executive Brad Turner, who told the crowd at the opening that the sport was ‘‘desperate’’ for ‘‘full-on training centres’’.

‘‘The training facility that they’ve got allows for a great standard of training and instructor training. Also for our elite athletes, we have substantial funding (about $55000 each) ... we need somewhere to spend that money and facilities like this will allow us to do that.

‘‘The funding that we want to put into teams and drive our teams to world championship medals — we need places like this. It also provides the atmosphere that keeps you guys coming back.’’

The opening was part of a three-day skydiving festival which saw jumpers from across Australia attend. But perhaps the most novel jump of all is pictured on this page. Why use a pair of scissors to cut the official opening ribbon when you can drop someone from a few thousand metres above to sail through it expertly ...

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