I don’t believe that it is 5 years since we re-opened. In 2015 we had just 30 rides and attractions, now we have over 90 rides and attractions and by the end of next year we hope to have over 100.
Kiama Council still seems obstructionist in blocking everything that we propose. We put in an application in 2016 for a giant shed for our garden wedding centre which it took council 3 years to disapprove. All we are trying to do is have a place where young couples on a budget can have a garden wedding for $350 and self cater in our 225 square metre shed for $450, making it one of the cheapest wedding venues.
The COVID virus certainly has affected our business, closing us down for 10 weeks and slowing down tourists coming down to the South Coast. One pleasing aspect of our park is the number of people who come back time and time again.
We have just printed a new suggestion card which we will give to all our customers in the hope that we can improve the enjoyment of people attending our park.
In 1982, John Grant who worked in Real Estate and only had one day a week off looked for something different to take his children to. After visiting the zoo and other attractions he felt that there was something missing for budget conscious families particularly large ones. He then thought of the time he was in England in 1967 and the enjoyment he had in a Maze over there.
He spent a year trying to find a suitable site close enough to Sydney but in the country. He settled on Foxground, 17 km south of Kiama and 8km north of Berry. In 1983 he agreed to purchase the property at 25 Princes Highway, Foxground from Frank McPharland. In 1983 he lodged a plan with Kiama Council for the garden tourist complex. This was rejected as being too amateurish and the Town Planner suggested he see an architect. At the beginning of 1985 with the architect we lodged professional plans. It still took Kiama Council 9 months to approve those plans. At the end of September 1985, he bought the property and planted nearly 2,000 trees for the Maze. Unfortunately, he was sold the wrong trees and they all died over a period of 2 years. He then went to a different nursery where he bought photinias and he replanted these along with melaleuca trees on the outside of the Maze.
In 1986 he was with the local Member of Parliament and said he didn’t have the money to put in the overtaking lane and was told to just open it without the overtaking lane. This was later denied by the local Member of Parliament.
In 1986 John Grant appointed a caretaker and opened the Maze. Kiama Council objected and took it to court where he was told to close it down.
In 1989 John Grant’s, father, Walter had just remarried and returned with his bride from Hong Kong. Having no where to stay his father stayed at the kiosk of the Maze and looked after the trees. Walter Grant also planted over 200 trees along the driveway and around the property to give it more shade. Most of these trees are still surviving today.
In 1991 the R.T.A came along and said that they were going to take a fair portion of his land that adjoins the Highway to make a duel land highway. His father then came to an agreement with R.T.A. that instead of money that they would swap the land and the R.T.A would put in the deceleration lane and access into the Maze. Every year Mr Grant rang the R.T.A. and they said that they didn’t have the money to do this.
Frustrated by this in 2005 Mr John Grant went to see the head of the R.T.A. in Wollongong who told Mr Grant that they (R.T.A.) had changed their minds about widening the Highway and were now going to put the expressway to follow the railway line.
Mr John Grant then went back to the drawing board and realized that the Maze alone would not be profitable. He then resubmitted to Council to put extra attractions to the Maze. These attractions included a garden wedding centre, mini golf course, canoes, paddle boats, remote control boats, trampolines, large, medium and small picnic huts, a giant chess board, spider web ride, donkey rides and a hay ride.
Kiama Council rejected this proposal. Mr Grant then went to the Land and environment court where they over ruled Kiama Council and granted permission to open on 400 conditions. This varied greatly from the original 16 conditions that the council put on the place opening in 1985.
Mr Grant stated that the only thing the council didn’t put in as a condition is that a left-handed skyhook be placed in the property for over flying planes. The main condition was that Granties Maze was to be a home-based business. Mr John Grant then put an application into Kiama Council for a home which took the council 18 months to approve.
The builder Beechwood then went bankrupt. It took 12 months for Mr Grant to get his money back from the liquidators for Beechwood. Mr Grant then engaged a kit home builder to build his home. Once again Kiama Council took ages to approve the building of his home. The kit home builder also went bankrupt. It took another year for Mr Grant to get his money back from the receiver of the kit home company. This time he engaged McDonald Jones to build the home. Kiama Council only took 9 months to approve the building. The foundation slab for the home was laid in May 2012 and was finished by December 2012.
From December 2012 to December 2015 Mr Grant then set about completing the 400 conditions that council had imposed upon him. He stated that some of the conditions were very petty. By Christmas 2015 all conditions had been completed including putting in an overtaking lane off the highway which all up cost of nearly $300,000 which will be useless when the new highway bypass opens in 2018.
The maze opened to the public on 27th December 2015 with 30 amusement attractions.
Now 1 year later, Granties Maze Fun Park has over 60 attractions including over 30 small rides in the Small Ride Shed. Many of these attractions are exclusive to the Maze being the only ones of this type in Australia.
Over the next 20 years Mr Grant intends to keep adding new attractions to retain his guest’s pleasure.