Big Dipper (Luna Park Sydney)

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Big Dipper
SLNSW 23962 Hollywood Hotel girls at Luna Park taken for Fullers Theatres Ltd.jpg
Performers from the Hollywood Hotel revue riding the Big Dipper in 1935
Luna Park Sydney
Coordinates33°50′53.60″S 151°12′35.90″E / 33.8482222°S 151.2099722°E / -33.8482222; 151.2099722Coordinates: 33°50′53.60″S 151°12′35.90″E / 33.8482222°S 151.2099722°E / -33.8482222; 151.2099722
Opening date1935 (1935)
Closing date1979 (1979)
Luna Park Glenelg
Opening date1930 (1930)
Closing date1934 (1934)
General statistics
Track layoutWood
Lift/launch systemChain
Height52 ft (16 m)
Length2,623 ft (799 m)
Speed58 mph (93 km/h)
Duration3 min (approx)
Max vertical angle45°
Big Dipper at RCDB
Pictures of Big Dipper at RCDB

The Big Dipper was a wooden roller coaster operating at Luna Park Sydney from 1935 until 1979. It was demolished in 1981. First constructed in 1930 to an American design, the wooden Big Dipper roller coaster was a mainstay of Luna Park Glenelg during its four years of operation. The ride was dismantled and shipped to Sydney when the Glenelg park went into voluntary liquidation in 1934, and became the biggest attraction of the newly opened Luna Park Milsons Point (which was later renamed Luna Park Sydney).

The ride was 800 metres (2,600 ft) long, lasted three minutes, could reach speeds of 84 kilometres per hour (52 mph), and when all three roller coaster trains were operating, could carry 72 people.

The Big Dipper remained popular throughout its operating life. The coaster became inactive when Luna Park was closed following the 1979 Sydney Ghost Train fire, and was demolished and burned, along with most of the 'old' Luna Park, when Australian Amusements Associates took over the site on 3 June 1981. Two of the nine roller coaster cars were purchased at the auction before the demolition; one is on display within Luna Park today, while the other is part of the Powerhouse Museum collection.[1]


The Big Dipper in its original location at Luna Park Glenelg

On New Year's Eve 1932, a woman who was improperly seated and not holding on fell from the Big Dipper, and died in hospital the next day.[2] Although allegations of intoxication or mechanical failure were made, the inquest concluded that the woman had committed suicide.[2]

On 26 April 1946, a 33-year-old man from New Caledonia was killed on the ride.[3] He disobeyed safety instructions by sitting on the edge of a train car, and was thrown from the ride on one of the corners and into a support pole.[3]

On 16 April 1979, 13 people were injured on the Big Dipper. A steel runner had come loose, halting one of the three rollercoaster trains.[4] The following train rammed the stationary one, causing the injuries.[4]


In 1994, a steel roller coaster was installed at Luna Park, and was given the Big Dipper name. Legal action against the new roller coaster led to significant restrictions in its operational availability, which contributed to the 1996 closure of Luna Park. The ride was sold to Dreamworld in 2001, where it currently operates as Hot Wheels SideWinder.


  • Marshall, Sam (2005). Luna Park – Just for fun (2nd ed.). Sydney, Australia: Luna Park Sydney Pty Ltd. ISBN 0-646-44807-2.
  • Historical information boards located at Luna Park Sydney
  1. ^ "99/3/1 Carriage, roller coaster, Big Dipper..." Powerhouse Museum Collection Search. Powerhouse Museum. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
  2. ^ a b ""BIG DIPPER" FATALITY". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 11 January 1932. p. 3. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b Marshall, Luna Park, p. 82
  4. ^ a b Marshall, Luna Park, pp. 108-9

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