Carousels and Merry Go Rounds in Australia

I think that I have liked Carousels and Merry Go Rounds since mum first put me on one on Clacton Pier when I was around four or five years old.

However, as far as I can remember I’ve never ridden on a carousel horse because I always feel a little uncomfortable about climbing onto and balancing on a horse when it is moving because of my fear of falling.

I read that the difference between a carousel and a merry-go-round is that a merry-go-round has a variety of animals and vehicles while a true carousel has only horses. Most people seem to use the terms interchangeably though.

There are a few carousels still operating in Australia. I have seen a few of them but not all. I hope to rectify that one day. I love the colourful horses, the artwork on the carousel itself and I especially like the ones that are still steam-driven. Sometimes the operator will also have a steam-powered organ as well. The following photos are mine except where credited otherwise.


Hobart is the home of “The Gallopers” a carousel built in 1882 in Norfolk, England and brought to Australia in 1990 virtually as a wreck. It was restored in Kingston, Tasmania and I first made its acquaintance on the Hobart waterfront where it was a regular visitor to summer events. It spends most of its time now at the Botanical Gardens but I was able to photograph it on the waterfront recently during the Tall Ships Festival. The portraits on the upper part of the carousel are of famous people including Australian Prime Ministers. I must say that it gave me a bit of a turn to encounter Paul Keating as well as Malcolm Fraser and Robert Menzies to mention a few.

History of The Gallopers
History of The Gallopers
image carousel
The Gallopers on the Hobart Waterfront.
All the horses are named
All the horses are named
organ 1
The Princess Fair Organ
image carousel horses
A close up of the carousel

New South Wales

Sydney has two carousels that I know of. One is at Luna Park on the harbour. I haven’t been to Luna Park for 25 years so I don’t know if the carousel they have now is the same one as they had then as the video I found shows installation of a new carousel and there is nothing about history.

English: Luna Park Sydney
English: Luna Park Sydney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Darling Harbour Carousel

The other one is at Darling Harbour and I saw and rode on it last year when my sister and I were on holiday. As we are too old and fat to climb on to carousel horses we got into a car which was much more convenient for taking pictures. We laughed when we heard the music being played. The Wiggles “Big Red Car” and my sister commented that it was a good thing that her movie camera was not recording sound. Well the laugh was on us. It was!

image darling harbour carousel
The Carousel at Darling Harbour.
Darling carousel-05
On board the carousel

Darling carousel-01

This carousel is another English built one. The steam engine was built in 1892 and the horses date back to around 1885. They were carved by the company of G & J Lines and Co. of London. I think this is the same company that went on to become Lines Bros. the famous toy making company.

The carousel came to Australia in 1894 and travelled around to country agricultural shows all over New South Wales. It was at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was a permanent part of the fun fair at Manly and  made its home at The Rocks for a while. Now it is owned by the NSW Government. It has been at Darling Harbour since 1988.

South Australia

Semaphore is the home of another historic carousel which I saw many times during the time I lived in South Australia.  This carousel is believed to be the largest operating carousel in Australia with 40 horses. Apparently 36 is the more usual number. The carousel recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Semaphore Carousel
Semaphore Carousel (Photo credit: HeatherW)


Melbourne has a carousel at Luna Park which has just celebrated its centenary. It has spent 90 of its 100 years at Luna Park, before that it was in Sydney. The carousel is an American made one from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen this carousel.

Luna Park, Melbourne
Luna Park, Melbourne (Photo credit: mattcashmore)

An hour away from Melbourne Geelong also has a carousel on the waterfront. This is one I still have to visit.

Carousel (Photo credit: mrpbps)

Western Australia

Perth Zoo is the home of another vintage carousel. It has been there since 1947 and originally had 20 horses and 2 boats but in 1968 the boats were removed and replaced by 4 more horses. This carousel is the only known working one in Western Australia and another one on my list to visit.


The only carousel I have read about in Queensland is one known as The Grand Carousel which  has been a permanent feature of the Brisbane Exhibition or “Ekka” as they say up there.

Brisbane Ekka 2009
Brisbane Ekka 2009 (Photo credit: Wenxiong Zhang)

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra has a carousel too and I’m rather cross that we ran out of time to see it when we were there a few years ago. I will try to get back there one day as there are a lot of other things I want to see in Canberra. This one has both horses and elephants so technically it is a merry go round. It was installed on the St Kilda esplanade near Melbourne in 1914 and has been in Petrie Plaza, Canberra since 1974.  It was designed and built in Victoria but the animals were imported from Germany and the poles came from Scotland.


These are some of the sites I found information on



I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.


  1. Hi Tas. Hope you don’t mind abbreviation of name… by the tie I scroll down to comment I forget spelling. Lovely images. Your prose shares the understanding of English that reminds me of a lot of British books I read… so delightfully phrased. Maybe you heard of a writer named Max Hennessey… writes about 18th/19th century sailing adventures… many bigger-than-life Australian plots. Your carousel pics marvelous. It looks to me like Australia in general is a fascinating place. My in-laws went to Tasmania on a cruise, but I suspect they missed discovering the flavor of your place. I asked what Tasmanians ate for breakfast. They didn’t know because they ate on the ship and then went ashore. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Nat, thank you for the compliments. I really enjoyed researching and writing this post. I can’t take credit for all the photos as the only ones I took were the ones of “The Gallopers” in Hobart. Sadly, since I wrote this I believe the carousel has been sold. I have no idea where it is now. I miss seeing it on the waterfront every summer but now I no longer live near Hobart anyway.
    I enjoy cruising. I’ve been twice but you usually only get a day in each port which is not long enough to really get more than a taste of the place you are visiting. Most people do what your in-laws did and eat on board. That’s not entirely their fault though because when a ship arrives in a port it has to clear quarantine before passengers can disembark and that usually takes an hour so it makes sense to get breakfast before you go off for a day exploring. I think that Tasmanians eat a variety of different things for breakfast. I personally favour raisin toast but I have cereal, porridge and eggs for a change. As I was born in England I have fond memories of bacon and eggs, perhaps with some fried tomato or baked beans for Sunday breakfast. It’s nice and filling.
    I haven’t heard of Max Hennessy but I might have to check him out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have an old Carousel horse to repair. (I’m in Tasmania.) How can I find out where it came from and what it used to look like?


    • Hi Rod, I’m not sure how you can do that. The Gallopers was the only Tasmanian carousel I know about. There are some links in the previous comments to yours to other carousel related sites. Maybe try them. The people who have the one at Semaphore SA seem knowledgable.


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