Luna Park

I haven't had a chance to share many of the photographs I made during my travels through Australia in 2017. Time slips away faster than I can keep track, and personal projects tend to get put on the back burner.

Some of my best work was made during this trip; shooting 10 hours a day for two and a half months straight really honed my skills as a photographer. It excites me to see these moments once again and vividly remember the experience. It was nearly impossible to keep on top of editing while I was on the road; too much walking/driving/flying leading to exhaustion, an old laptop that froze every time I tried to open Lightroom... there was always something standing in my way. I finally accepted I would have to wait until I was back in Canada to sort through them on my desktop, and while the plan was to get through the images asap, it ended up taking three years! Con't...

I had been traveling down the East Coast of Australia with my best friend Jovi during the last week of August 2017; our adventure started in Brisbane, continued on to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands, with a short stop in Sydney before we started to make our way to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road.

The smell of spring drifted through the damp, cold air. Jovi and I spent our first day in Sydney exploring downtown, the Sydney Opera House and harbour front. We had stopped at a quaint cafe on the pier to grab a couple of latte's, and noticed something lit up across the canal. With a quick google search, we found out it was an amusement park by the name of Luna Park. The sun had already set, we were exhausted from walking all day and agreed to venture across the following day.

Wanting to take advantage of the warm sunny weather, we started out early the next morning and found our way to the Royal Botanic Garden. After wandering the massive 72 acre paradise for several hours, we walked down to the harbour to catch a ferry to see Luna Park before sunset. As we departed on the other side of the canal, a bone chilling wind picked up. We jogged along the seawall trying to keep warm and soon found ourselves at the entrance of Luna Park. A gigantic clown head towered over us; it's blinking eyes and toothy gaping grin welcoming us in. It was off-season so the rides were closed, but with the park nestled among residential neighbourhoods, the gates were left open for residents to walk through and easily access the other side of the boardwalk. We ventured in and our eyes were instantly overwhelmed by vibrant pops of colour every which way. The midway was essentially vacant, creating a nice exploration of a typically crowded attraction. Amidst the magnificent 1930's art deco architecture, a series of funhouse mirrors caught our attention where we amused ourselves for several minutes before continuing on. The sun started to set, so we found our way to the boardwalk to watch the golden light dip behind the city. As we strolled back towards the ferry terminal and said goodbye to Luna Park, I knew I would one day have to return and enjoy the parks thrills in full force.

A Short History: The first ever Luna Park opened on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York City in 1903. Luna Parks, also known as small-scale attraction parks, were typically built in town centres or suburbs for easy accessibility and their ability to target and attract residential markets. After the success of Luna Park on Coney Island, an American entrepreneur named Herman Phillips, and several other investors brought the idea to Australia. They opened three parks; Melbourne in 1912, Adelaide in 1930, and Sydney in 1935. Luna Park Sydney was an immediate success and continued to be popular during World War II.

The park continued to run smoothly until its closure in 1988, due to an unsuccessful attempt to redevelop the site as an adult entertainment centre. The lease was eventually terminated in 1990 after a deadline to reopen was missed. The NSW government took control by turning the Park into a Heritage Reserve Trust, and after several years of restoration and the installation of new rides, the government accepted a redevelopment proposal and granted a new 40 year operating lease. The reopening of Luna Park took place in 2004 and still operates to this day. Another fun fact: The entrance has gone through eight different face lifts between 1935 and 1994. The eighth and current Face, is carved from polyurethane and was inspired by "Old King Cole" from the classic British nursery rhyme of the same name.