Gumbuya World: Fun But Incomplete

Disclaimer: This review is based on a pre-pandemic visit to the park, so the current visitor experience may have changed.

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A renovated, revamped version of the old Gumbuya Park family theme park in Gippsland opened to the public in 2016. Touted as Australia’s only water, wildlife and theme park, it offers exhibits of native wildlife, carnival-style ride attractions and an impressive water park with a lazy river, a series of large water slides, wave pool and a water playground.

This section of the park known as Oasis Springs is the newest and most impressive. There is an abundance of shaded lounge areas and the pools are large enough to accomodate summer crowds.

The wait times for the slides can be long but at least the staircases leading up the tower are all undercover. The area as a whole is well laid-out and appeared clean and well-maintained when I visited.

Wanna get wet? Oasis Springs has you covered.
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The main food hall was also a pleasant surprise. The menu was all standard theme park fare but it was fresh enough and the queues moved quickly, indicating the park has its staffing requirements sorted.

The wildlife area is nice but could use some updates. If you’ve been to Melbourne Zoo or the Healesville Sanctuary then you don’t really need to visit this part of the park.

The theme park areas – optimistically named Oz Adventure and Outback Explorers – is where things get a bit cheap and nasty. It’s little more than a series of carnival rides and is run with very little efficiency. There’s plenty for little kids to enjoy but teens and adults mostly miss out. Genuine thrill seekers will be greatly disappointed.

Rush Hour is the peak for thrills at Gumbuya World.
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I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the world’s best theme parks, like Disney World, Universal Studios and Cedar Point. These parks have optimised their procedures to maximise riders per hour and while Gumbuya World is a much smaller operation, it’s hard not to compare the experiences.

The worst example was a ride called Tree Swing, a basic chair swing that rotates and is made to look like a tree, hence the creative and thoughtful name. It’s a very mild thrill ride, aimed at families.

The number of people in the queue should have indicated a 5-10 minute wait time. Instead we waited over half an hour for a ride that is not worth waiting half an hour for.

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The reason for this was two-fold: a poorly designed queue area and staff who seemed content to do as little as possible. While the ride was in operation they stood and chatted while they could have been preparing the next group of riders. Instead, they waited until the ride stopped, meaning the ride was stopped for much longer between cycles than necessary.

Now, if the queue area was re-designed to accomodate a “next rider” area then all this could be fixed and the wait time would have only been 10 minutes. Instead, we waited three times as long for a mediocre ride.

The theme park section as a whole suffers from the same problems: it all feels very cheap and temporary. The former Gumbuya Park at least had a toboggan run and a mini race car circuit, and while neither was extreme in its thrills they were at least permanent installations bespoke to the site. Both are now long gone and replaced with rides that all fit on the back of a truck.

The old toboggan ride at Gumbuya Park did not survive the renovation to Gumbuya World.
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It’s a shame, because it lets the rest of the park down. Oasis Springs is as good a waterpark as you’ll find and on a hot day is worth the price of entry alone.

Sadly, the rest of the park is lacking the same level of investment and in terms of both attractions and operations. Land space probably prevents any major additions like full-scale rollercoasters but with the current level of efficiency such an attraction would probably have a wait time longer than the park’s operating hours anyway.

Gumbuya World nailed Oasis Springs. If they can bring the rest of the park up to the same level it will be among the best amusement parks in the country. Until then it’s unfulfilled potential lets it down, rendering Gumbuya World a great water park but not much else.

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