Luna Park badge
This badge has significance because it helps to document the rich history of Sydney's Luna Park, an amusement park that has been a site of recreation and leisure since 1935. With its spectacular harbourside location, Luna Park is key element of Sydney's identity that has provided fun and excitement for generations of children. For adults who visited the park as youngsters, it is a powerful symbol of happy memories. For showies, artists and casual workers, it provided employment for seven decades. The park's controversial history of sustained operation, possible destruction, neglect, tragedy, closure, restoration and reinvigoration is important in terms of urban development and community response. It was saved from annihilation by citizens devoted to preserving its unique brand of magic and in recent times its fortunes have remained a focus of community concern. Luna Park's gateway is the laughing face of popular culture, the antithesis to the highbrow culture found at the Sydney Opera House diagonally opposite. Its rich history is now well recorded in photographs and print, but many significant artefacts and ephemera have been dispersed or lost.
Sydney's Luna Park had its origins at Glenelg in Adelaide where it was established in 1930 but forced to close due to problems with residents and the local council. Luna Park's contents were shipped to Sydney where, under the supervision of Ted Hopkins, it re-opened in 1935 on a site that had been recently vacated by the Sydney Harbour Bridge construction project. Luna Park's festive atmosphere has always been augmented by fine examples of fairground artwork. Arthur Barton, the park's resident artist until 1970, designed murals and panels full of humour and whimsy. The park was revamped in the 1970s with the help of the artists Martin Sharp, Peter Kingston and Richard Liney. After the fatal ghost train fire of 1979, Luna Park was closed. A new leaseholder, Harbourside Amusements, took over in 1981, adding new attractions but doing away with many of the older rides and artwork. After the park closed again in 1988, public protests and lobbying by Friends of Luna Park, a community organisation, persuaded the state government to prevent a proposed high rise development, ensuring that the site would be reserved for public recreation, amusement and entertainment. A reinvigorated Luna Park re-opened in 1995 but was forced to close due to complaints by residents about noise from the new Big Dipper. It re-opened in 2004 with a new Big Top, a refurbished Crystal Palace, alongside traditional attractions like the Rotor, the Wild Mouse and Coney Island.