This week, with Valentines Day approaching, it seemed to be an ideal time to turn the attention of readers of The Past Present to a popular destination for young couples out on the town. Luna Park in Sydney has long been a popular place with couples and families alike, and also has a fascinating history.
Of course, one of the most iconic parts of Luna Park is the face, but the face we see today is not the face which once would have looked down on visitors. The face was inspired by and based on the smiling faces which welcome visitors to Luna Park Melbourne and to Steeplechase Park in the United States, but it has been replaced eight times, each time with a slightly new look. However, there has been a face of one form or another looking over visitors in Sydney for nearly the entirety of its history. The first face was installed in 1935, the same year the park opened to visitors. It was replaced in 1938, then just another year later, in 1939. Then, in 1946, 1950 and 1973 the face again had something of a ‘facelift’.
After the Ghost Train fire of 1979, Luna Park closed down, and in 1980, the future looked grim. A march was organised that year to see the site saved, and one of the results of this march was that the face itself was heritage listed. Luna Park opened to the public once again in 1982 as Harbourside Amusement Park, and the same year another new face was installed. The park closed again in 1988, and in 1994 the face was once again removed in preparation for the newest, and final face in the history of the park. The face that was removed was donated to the Powerhouse Museum, and is now part of their collection. The new face was installed in 1994, and although the park itself underwent quite a rocky period between then and the final reopening in 2004, the final face remains, smiling down on visitors to this day.