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Winter Sports World a dry flood risk

Man standing in a paddock in front of a wooden fence
Winter Sports World managing director Peter Magnisalis. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Australia’s first indoor snow resort is an appropriate riverbank development at Penrith. Winter Sports World will be calmly evacuated if floodwater does rise, but it won’t increase flood risk to surrounding properties.

Those findings by flood mitigation experts have been backed by the NSW Government.

Penrith-based civil engineering and project management consultancy J. Wyndham Prince has worked on the Winter Sports World (WSW) flood risk and mitigation for the past four years as well as civil, stormwater and water quality for the proposal.

The flood modelling was also supported by an independent consultant engaged by the NSW Planning Department and was the last hurdle to overcome before the project was granted State Significant Development Application approval on January 11.

The executive summary of the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure State Significant Development Assessment document states that the proposal is ``consistent with the objects of the EP&A Act, the site is suitable for the proposed use and compatible with the existing and desired future character of the surrounding lands’’.

``…the proposal would provide a new tourism and recreation opportunity for the Penrith area …[and] is in the public interest ...’’

The accompanying Notice of Decision document also noted that WSW would not hinder evacuation of the area and ``will not increase the flood impact on neighbouring properties in local flood events (of Peach Tree Creek)’’ and only cause marginal increases (0.1 to 0.15m) in flood depths on neighbouring properties in some regional flood events of the Nepean River, however those properties had existing depths of up to 3.5m in those scenarios.

Two men and two women dressed in corporate clothing study maps on a table
WSW managing director Peter Magnisalis (l) and J. Wyndham Prince director Peter Mehl (middle) and team study flood modelling documents. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

J. Wyndham Prince director Peter Mehl said the Winter Sports World development would not adversely impact flooding on neighbouring properties.

Minor flooding was possible on the WSW site if Peachtree Creek inundated the property or, in the case of a very large flood, water backed up in the river and seeped up from the creek.

During extreme flood events such as a Probable Maximum Flood (about a 1 in a 100,000 chance per year) it could inundate the property by several metres.

However, the site could be evacuated well in advance, posing no risk to overnight visitors, daytrippers or staff.

Dubbed The Giant Esky, the building will be designed with flood resilience to withstand extreme flood events up to the PMF level.

``That means that after the water recedes, we will simply clean the place out, repaint it, do a few minor repairs and reopen,’’ Mr Magnisalis said.

``The building won’t be destroyed.’’

Ensuring that WSW complied with regulations had been a complicated, rigorous process because ``there’s all sorts of different scenarios that can happen, and they all have boxes to be ticked’’, Mr Mehl said.

Government criteria changed several times during the past four years, each time requiring new modelling and, because WSW was a state significant development, numerous government agencies involved each had specific requirements.

Involved in several other projects on the Hawkesbury Nepean floodplain, Mr Mehl said flooding would be a constant issue for the Hawkesbury Nepean, ``but the floodplain shouldn't be sterilised just because there might be a one in 100,000 risk that the land gets flooded’’.

``It's about keeping the community safe and appropriate development in the appropriate places.

``Winter Sports World is absolutely the right sort of development on this property.’’

WSW managing director Peter Magnisalis praised J. Wyndham Prince for its work: ``It’s been a long, hard slog to get to approval stage, but they never gave up in their search for solutions.

``This is a great outcome for the project but, most importantly, for the Penrith community.

``I am delighted with the result, which has been validated by an independent government consultant.’’

WSW will shortly enter a phase of detailed design and engineering development to prepare for construction.

The first stage of construction will involve preparing for the basement walls and excavation to prepare the infrastructure works that will go into the basement such as the massive 1920kL underground water tank for the snow making, mechanical plant rooms, loading docks and carpark.

Announcements will be made soon about the engagements of suppliers and contractors for every facet of the project, from construction company, snowmaking and lift specialists, restaurant and hotel operators to artists and designers.

``Winter Sports World will use the best in the world for everything, so I am especially excited when I find the world’s best right on our doorstep, like J. Wyndham Prince,’’ Mr Magnisalis said.


Nicknamed ``the giant Esky’’ and located within the vibrant Riverlink Tourism Precinct at Penrith just 15km from the new Western Sydney International airport, Winter Sports World (WSW) will be Australia’s first indoor snow resort.

Using real snow, the $400 million project will include:

  • A 300m advanced open run for experienced skiers and snow boarders, learn to ski runs and a dedicated winter wonderland snow play area

  • Competition venue for snow sports such as alpine skiing

  • Ice climbing and crevasse outdoor rock climbing

  • 4.5-star 170-room hotel, conference and function rooms

  • Restaurant and cafes with snow views

The more than 300m northern facade will glow at night with kinetic lighting giving the appearance of a blizzard, while the public area and curved lower-level facade will look like melting ice.

There will be water streams, pathway networks, landscaped plantings and large 8m high message sticks to mimic melting ice and mountains telling the stories of First Nations people and how they lived on Dyarubbin (Nepean River) nearby.

Designed to be net-zero carbon ready, WSW will feature numerous sustainability elements.

It is expected to generate more than 1350 new ongoing tourism jobs once open and inject more than $220 million a year into the local economy with around 1 million visitors annually.

WSW will provide a training venue for Olympic sports such as alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding.


Established in Penrith in 1982, J. Wyndham Prince has planned, designed, managed and delivered land development and infrastructure projects in the Greater Sydney region including Mulgoa Rise, Caddens, Redbank, Thornton, Macarthur Heights, Jordan Springs, Elara and others.

A local government procurement-approved contractor, J. Wyndham Prince is a leading provider of stormwater and flood engineering services with a team of water resources engineers who specialise in water preservation, flood and stormwater mitigation and floodplain management.

It is a member of the Stormwater Industry Association and Floodplain Management Australia.

The company has also performed peer reviews on major projects and provided input into policy development for various government authorities, and acts on behalf of clients as expert witnesses in the Land and Environment Court.

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