Australia is one of my favourite countries, and I’d visit more regularly were it not for the arduous journey required to get there. Flying from Dublin to Sydney via the Middle East costs a small fortune and takes in the region of twenty-four hours, and as if that were not enough there is an eleven hour time zone jump that plays merry hell with the body clock. Anything requiring brain power is effectively off the table for at least the first day after landing, and with that in mind I decided that I might as well spend a few hours indulging my roller coaster habit.
Luna Park Sydney is very straightforward to get to via public transport. It's possible to take a train or indeed a bus to Milsons Point, though the best option for tourists is to take a ferry from Circular Quay. The crossing takes no more than five minutes, and provides excellent views of both the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The crossing also gives a close up view of whatever cruise ship happens to be in dock; today's behemoth was the P&O Cruises Pacific Adventure, which was preparing to depart on a thirteen day round trip cruise to several ports in New Zealand.
The park has recently completed a $30 million (~€19.5 million) overhaul, during which nine new rides were added to the northern end of the park, including three roller coasters. Construction work required a six month closure, but that was less of a hit than it might have been in the middle of the pandemic. The upgrade is a major improvement that sets the park up for at least the next decade, though it would be remiss of me not to mention the loss of a number of older attractions, most notably three vintage HUSS machines that were the last of their kind in Australia: a Breakdance, a Troika, and a Ranger. The fate of all remains unclear as of this writing, though it seems likely that they've been scrapped.
The park’s new signature attraction is Big Dipper (#3053), the world premiere of the Intamin Hot Racer. The hardware is to all intents and purposes a copy of the RMC Raptor, though the implementation differs from its predecessor in the use of two tyre drive launches, the second of which accelerates the train to a peak speed of 70 kilometres per hour. The result is visually appealing, aside from what I hope to be a temporary workshop area visible from the queue, and it’s also quite thrilling – but it’s fair to say that it isn’t smooth, particularly towards the back of the train. Today there was a pronounced side to side shuffle throughout, which limited the number of laps I was prepared to do to six – four in the front and two in the back.
My second hit was Boomerang (#3054), a Gerstlauer shuttle coaster with the same layout as Rewind Racers. This fits remarkably well into the park, and I genuinely can’t fault it; it’s a great family attraction. The highlight for me was travelling backwards through the helix, which delivered much stronger forces than I would have expected from the ground. I managed three laps, two in front and one in back. (The ride is next to impossible to photograph from within the park. The best shot is likely from the roof of a nearby apartment block or indeed from a drone, but failing those options I found a long zoom from Lavender Bay Wharf gave me something passable.)
The final credit was experiencing technical difficulties, but engineers were working on it and when asked for a best guess one of them told me to “come back at two mate, that’s what we’re shooting for”. I decided to kill time on the Ferris Wheel and by walking in the local area, returning about five minutes before the stated time. The engineers were gone and the closed sign was still up, but I decided to wait in the shade for a little while in the hope that I’d get my tick. At about five past the hour a pair of operators arrived, and after two test trains I was able to appreciate the unbridled joy that is Little Nipper (#3055), my fourth Preston Mine Vagon. The reader is encouraged to pronounce the ride name in the most overblown Australian accent available for maximum effect.
The one disappointment of the day was the unavailability of the Wild Mouse, now one of just three examples of the type worldwide with wood track. I’m glad to say however that this was for good reason; the ride is currently in the midst of a major overhaul that is expected to be complete later this year. It’s only a shame that management at Aussie World and Blackpool Pleasure Beach didn’t feel the need to do the same with their installations.