Adventure Park Geelong

13th January 2018

Adventure Park is a combined water and theme park located on the Bellarine Peninsula, around ninety minutes drive from central Melbourne. The park has a slightly strange admission policy, in that tickets are sold online but not for specific dates. In peak season the park regularly hits capacity, which is arguably okay for local residents but a total pain in the proverbial for enthusiasts who've travelled from the other side of the world. Rather than risk a miss we decided it was worth getting to the park thirty minutes early even though we knew this would limit us to an absolute maximum of six hours of sleep. This wasn't ideal, to put it mildly, and as such it was a delight to discover that we'd timed our visit to overlap with some unseasonably cold weather. The forecast was for a high of just twenty-one degrees, less than half of what it had been a few days earlier, and we figured (correctly) that this would keep the multitudes away. This enabled liberal use of the snooze button, making the day much more enjoyable than it might otherwise have been. As it was there were no more than fifty cars in the lot when we arrived shortly after opening.

Our visit was triggered by the presence of Crazy Coaster (#2410), currently the only member of the SBF Visa Compact Spinning family in Australia, and one of ten known installations of the "three loop" model worldwide. In a bizarre move the park has chosen to retrofit a four-point seatbelt to each seat to supplement the basic lap bars, despite the factory design working without issue in Austria, Belarus, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States – and lots more countries besides. Fabric restraints are suboptimal in water parks at the best of times, and the same was true here with the belts looking more than a little suspect. The one saving grace was that we were the first guests of the day, meaning that they were at least dry. The ride was one of the better examples of the genre, though not something we needed to do more than once.

Crazy Coaster

Our second stop was at Shipwreck Harbour, a set of pedal operated boats with convenient cupholders and a simple two line safety message; don't go under the bridge because none shall pass, and don't be an idiot, a refreshingly candid turn of phrase that reminded me of why I enjoy Australia so much. We donned our lifejackets, worked our way out into the middle of the lake, took a few obligatory photographs, enjoyed the view for a few minutes, then worked our way back. The operator was singing something as we made our way back, providing a little bonus musical entertainment.

The park has two separate mini-golf courses located side by side on an island in the middle of the boating lake. Fortress Falls is the more physically compact of the two, with the various holes set around a observation platform that provides a scenic overview of the whole course (and much of the park). We decided to play Shipwreck Falls, which had quite a few interesting features, not least one hole where the ball went through a series of troughs propelled by water and another with three different routings between the start and end points. We didn't bother keeping score, but Megan was definitely doing better than I was. That said, her claim that she'd have managed a hole in one if my foot hadn't been in the way was questionable at best!

We waited for a few minutes while our friend Gavin partook of the Tornado waterslide, something that I'd gladly have tried if it had been ten degrees warmer given its status as the biggest and longest of its type in the area. After he'd had a chance to defrost we walked through the rest of the water park, eventually arriving back at the entrance next to an eighteen car Ferris Wheel. We were a little late for the best photos, as the cloud had begun to close in, but we still managed some good overview shots. With that done Gavin and Megan caught a quick spin on the Wave Swinger, disembarking moments before the rain began to fall.

 

Lakes Entrance Family Carnival

13th January 2018

For many years there have been two Pinfari looping coasters in Australia, both of which have traditionally been quite problematic for international enthusiasts due to extremely limited operating windows. The Big Dipper remains awkward, given that it operates for just ten days a year at the Royal Adelaide Show, but the Python Loop (formerly of the Perth Royal Show) has in the last few months been sold to Melbourne-based Chants Amusements, who plan to present it more regularly. In the run up to our trip I discovered that it would be taking pride of place at a month-long event in Lakes Entrance, roughly four hours drive to the east of Melbourne, and while that wasn't exactly convenient for our itinerary it could have been a great deal worse!

There was only one catch; the local forecast showed four hours of heavy rainfall overlapping with the entire operating window of the carnival, and given that we were concerned that the promoters would choose not to open. Rather than risk a long drive for nothing we decided to send out a message via Facebook in the hope that we'd be able to confirm one way or another, and to our delight we were told that they were weather dependent but that they would operate the coaster for us regardless given that we were visiting from the other side of the world. As it turned out the entire event was open despite the precipitation, and though crowds were very light we were far from the only guests crazy enough to brave the rancid conditions.

Nitro

The ride now known as Nitro (#2411) is probably the best looking ZL42 I've come across in my travels. The load and unload stations have been painted with elaborate custom designs, and these have been supplemented with fiberglass stunt bikes set above the track at several points in the layout. The three trains have been given rudimentary but elegant decals, and each car has been fitted with a polished mirror which presumably generates some interesting visual effects at night. Better yet, the trains handle the track far better than most Pinfari rides; I chose the right hand side of row three for both of my laps in a fundamentally unsuccessful attempt to avoid the worst of the weather, and in that location the comfort level was very good indeed, with only one slightly suspect transition right before the final turn. Though I didn't experience it myself Megan reported that the back seat delivered a pop of ejector airtime on the first drop which was as unexpected as it was brilliant.

Our next stop was at the Ferris Wheel, an open design that was a slightly smaller version of the open cage design that we experienced at Aussie World. This had the potential to be drenching given the conditions, but fortunately there was almost no wind, meaning that the canvas roofs on each car kept things fairly dry while also providing rudimentary protection for camera lenses. With that done we concluded our visit with the Dodgems.

We'd like to thank the team at Chants Amusements for their generous hospitality and for operating as usual on a night when their staff probably would almost certainly have preferred to stay home.