First inhabitants were the Cammeraigal clan of the Kuringgai Tribe
James Milson farms in the area and builds a house on a site where one of the northern Harbour Bridge pylons stands today.
Ferry services from North Shore to the city begin in Luna Park area
Cable tram from Milsons Point to North Sydney built next to the ferry wharf
Railway line completed from Milsons Point through Luna Park site to Hornsby
Harbour Bridge Construction
1924 – 1932
Bridge contractors occupy site and build large workshops where components for the Harbour Bridge are made and assembled. The workshops are demolished after the bridge is completed
Fun Park 1935 – 1969
4 October 1935
Luna Park opens with rides relocated from Luna Park Glenelg. The concept is based on the success of the first Luna Park which opened on Coney Island, New York in 1903. American entrepreneur Herman Phillips and others brought the idea to Australia and opened Luna Park Melbourne in 1912 and Luna Park Glenelg, Adelaide in 1930. Sydney’s Luna Park greatly benefits from the knowledge gained from the operation of the earlier parks. The park opens to immediate success and continues to be popular during World War II. It is run smoothly under the management of showman, David Atkins until 1957 and engineer, Ted Hopkins until 1969. During the 1950’s and 1960’s following overseas excursions, a series of new rides are installed.
The remaining 6 years of the lease and equipment of Luna Park are sold to a group who unsuccessfully apply to redevelop the site as a multi-storey Trade Centre. The principal shareholder is removed and the fun park remains open. A group of artists including Martin Sharp and Peter Kingston are commissioned to redecorate the park. The lease expires in 1975 with the park continuing on a weekly basis. There is limited investment in park infrastructure and some older rides are replaced with portable rides.
A fatal fire in the Ghost Train results in the park’s closure. Despite three rounds of tenders The NSW Government are unable to find a suitable operator.
While the park remains closed, “Friends of Luna Park” headed by artists who had worked at Luna Park stage public rallies and meetings to ensure Luna Park’s survival.
NSW Government grant a lease to Harbourside Amusements but there is a dispute with the previous leaseholder over the value of fittings left at the park.
The Government orders the old lessees to vacate the site before 3 June. However on 29 May and 1 June an auction is held where many of the detachable amusements and artworks are sold and removed. Two days later Harbourside Amusements move in and begin demolition and construction work.
Park re-opens with most of the old rides replaced with new rides.
Park closes for renovations and after several changes of leaseholder, unsuccessful application is made to redevelop park as an “adult entertainment centre with high-rise towers.”
The lease is terminated on 5 June through the Luna Park Site Act 1990 after the leaseholder fails to meet a deadline to re-open the amusement park. The government through The Luna Park Reserve Trust takes control and a heritage study is commissioned
Major restoration of the major buildings begins, a new public foreshore boardwalk is created and a new roller coaster and other rides installed.
Luna Park opens in January jointly managed by the Luna Park Reserve Trust and a private carnival operator. Residents initiate a legal challenge against noise from the Big Dipper resulting in a reduction of its operating hours. In May an administrator is appointed and the park closes in Feb 1996.
NSW Parliament passes the Luna Park Site Amendment Act 1997 which provides for a wider range of uses for Luna Park (such as restaurants, function rooms and theatres etc) The precinct of Luna Park and its associated heritage items are classified and placed on the register of the National Estate
Government accepts Metro Edgley Pty Ltd’s redevelopment proposal after a rigorous 18 months public tender process and a 40 year operating lease is granted
The Big Dipper rollercoaster is sold and moved to Dreamworld, Queensland
A new company called Luna Park Sydney Pty Ltd assumes the 40 year lease
Construction and total refurbishment of buildings and rides begin after final building approvals are completed.
2004, 4 April
Luna Park re-opens. The redevelopment is based on keeping the site’s unique identity and heritage features while providing a new 2,000 seat Big Top auditorium, onsite carpark, restaurant and refurbished function facilities.
Luna Park is listed on the State Heritage Register.
Interested in learning more about Luna Park's history? Make a booking for a guided History Tour, call 02 9922 6644 or purchase an Unlimited Rides Pass Online now and save $5!