Merry-go-rounds of this type and quality are a dying breed, not only in Australia but also around the world.
This lovely ‘olde worlde’ ride started life, operated by German showman Anton Weniger, on the St Kilda Esplanade in Melbourne in 1914. In January 1916 (during World War 1) the merry-go-round unceremoniously passed into Australian hands after about fifty soldiers arrived and relieved Weniger of his Riding Gallery, because he was German.
The merry-go-round arrived in Canberra in 1973 and, after a period of extensive restoration, opened to the public in 1974.
Designed and built by Herbert Thomson of Armadale, Victoria, the merry-go-round has 52 beautiful hand carved horses and, interestingly, two elephants carriages with one black and one white elephant. All the animals were carved in Germany, where the ride’s organ was also built, while the twisted brass poles holding the animals in place came from Scotland.
The horses, all named after famous race horses of the day, are four abreast in 14 rows.
Sadly the 69 key pipe organ, due to is fragile condition, is no longer with the ride and the steam engine originally used to drive it, while fully restored and in place, is also no longer used, because of a boiler issue. The ride is now powered by a modern electric motor.
While I understand why the ride is protected behind metal shutters when closed, what I cannot understand is why the operators often only open a couple of the shutters when the ride is open. It is such a shame not to fully display this delightful ride to the public and surely it can’t be much of an advertisement for the business if people cannot easily see it. My photographs attached were taken on a rare day when all the shutters were open and it really did look great. The last photo is courtesy of http://www.suryamagazine.com.au/ (link subsequently broken) .
The kids will love it and what a great option it is to the grotty little coin operated rides that proliferate inside shopping centres there days and which cost the same or more to ride.
Opening Hours (which appear to be on the variable side):
Sun 11am-3pm (10.30am-3pm in summer)
Cost:A$3 – 2016
Address: Petrie Plaza, Canberra City (Civic)
Directions: In the pedestrianised part of the City Centre