Noah’s Ark Play Centre is easily one of the most instantly recognisable buildings in the Riverina.
For a quarter of a century, it has been the place where children have made memories, made friends and grown up, and for parents it has been a place for their kids to play while giving them a moment to sit back.
In the 25 years since the famous ark opened its biblically inspired door, it has had three different owners take the reins, including current director Abbie McCorquodale.
“I will have owned Noah’s Ark for six years on 25 September, which just so happens to be the first day of the school holidays,” Abbie said.
“I bought the centre back in 2017, I was working for a jewellery company at the time and I had just transitioned into management.
“I grew bored of my job and I needed a bit of a challenge.”
Abbie said she always tries to learn new things and develop new skills. Once she purchased the ark, she said she definitely learnt a lot about owning her own business.
“I thought by taking on a business, it could be something I could invest time into, something I could look over and with it being my own business it’ll be flexible,” Abbie said with a reluctant grin.
Abbie and her family faced a number of challenges during their almost six years at the helm but perhaps none bigger than purchasing the centre while looking after her one-year son.
“When I picked Noah’s Ark my husband was a bit sceptical,” she said.
“My son was still a baby, the buying process was something new to us and my husband was working a separate job.”
Abbie said she and her brilliant staff helped overcome the initial transitioning period and since steading the ship have made the centre their own while still being the same iconic place families love to visit.
“We made a real effort to make the centre a place where kids and their families could look forward to.
“In our time here, we have done up the party rooms to create a fun environment for a child’s special day, we have also given each of the animals on our logo their own name and identity.”
Accompanying Abbie and her team inside the ark are Lulu the elephant, Gus the giraffe, Ziggy the zebra, Tickles the tiger, Poco the parrot and Larry the lion.
“Everyone around Wagga knows Noah’s Ark, people drive past it with their kids to see, It’s a very recognisable building,” Abbie said.
“Often when driving past, parents will slow down so their kids can see the animals in the window. They’ll see the zebra or the tiger and go ‘there’s Ziggy or there’s Tickles’, it really gives each child their own special experience.”
Abbie and her family have had their own experiences at Noah’s Ark, including witnessing their son take his first steps.
“My son took his first steps in front of the equipment,” she said.
“It was a very special moment and something I will remember forever.”
Since opening in the late 1990s, Noah’s Ark continues to attract families from all across the region, and the venue is booked out most days of the week.
“Winter time is our busiest period,” Abbie said.
“It’s always pretty busy around this time of year and will probably not die down until the end of the school holidays.
“Party availabilities do fill up quite quickly and regularly, so if you looking to book a party or event, please give us a call, email us or send us a message on our Facebook page and we can arrange something quite easily.”
Noah’s Ark is open every day of the week except Tuesdays, from 9:30 am on weekdays and 10 am on weekends.