Rockbrat Remembers: The Manly Fun Pier

You know the other day I was watching a great doco movie about pinball called ‘Special When Lit’ that came out last year and it really brought back a lot of fond memories. Mr. Rockbrat and Cowboy Col spent many hours playing pinball in the late 70’s and right through the 80s. Two places we used to hang out were Fonzies at Collaroy (they used to have this HUGE pinball that required two people to play it. I used to think it was pretty cool to put coins in the jukebox and play ‘Mexican Radio’ by Wall Of Voodoo back in 82) and also the Fun Pier at Manly. Mr. Rockbrat was quite the pinball wizard, and his pinball talents developed to the point that I recall more than once in the late 80’s watching Mr. Rockbrat play pinball in some pub and consistently winning free games with quite a crowd gathered round watching his exploits. At the Fun Pier, I remember the ‘Playboy’ machine and also ‘Centaur’ and a bunch of old 10 cent machines like ‘Ten Pin’. My favourite machine though was ‘Flash’. Can’t remember why though. In today’s day and age, you can download games and play games against total strangers on the net. Well that’s all well and good, but there was nothing quite like playing pinball my friends. There’d be a pinny at every milk bar or take away. The Fun Pier though was really the cool place to go. The Manly Fun Pier started life as a cargo wharf at Manly Cove in the 1850s. In 1927 the cargo wharf was closed and in 1931 it was reopened as the Manly Amusement Pier. Manly’s Fun Pier had two slogans, being ‘Built for fun in’31” and “Seven miles from Sydney, a million miles from care.” This park sat alongside the ferry terminal at Manly on its own wharf. The park included an aquarium, a ferris wheel, merry go round with different animals, ghost train, octopus, mexican whip, tumbling house, mirror maze, indoor mini golf, train ride, cha cha and others. Sadly, by 1989, its days were numbers and it was pulled down, and Manly lost one of it’s icons, so that another yuppie could now be accommodated in a shiny new apartment. (The Manly Hotel suffered a similar fate a couple of years later). During its life, the Fun Pier saw a number of renovations (including a substantial renovation in 1980/81). At the time of its alteration in 1980/81, attractions included: The shark aquarium (the entrance of which was a large shark mouth), dodgems, ghost train, wax museum, fun castle, Ferris Wheel, merry go-round, the Octopus ride, the Space-Walk ride, miniature train ride, tumbling house and slide, and the Mexican Whip Ride. I have many fond memories of the fun pier, and it was a great place to perfect your pinball skills. I remember walking through the fun pier and stepping over some cracks or small holes on the wharf floor and seeing the ocean below. Go check out ‘Special When Lit’. Maybe you have a memory of your pinball spent youth or favourite amusement centre you’d like to share?

9 thoughts on “Rockbrat Remembers: The Manly Fun Pier

  1. I vaguleyr that place, the STATE BANK of NSW used to put training courses on for country staff and put you up either in Oxford or the STATE BANK college in Manly, don’t remember much thinh we’d be drinkin before hand …

    Also nearly saw HEAVEN in the MANLY HOTEL , non of the other people I was with on the COURSE wanted to go so alas peer pressure took it toll ….

  2. I vaguley remember that place, the STATE BANK of NSW used to put training courses on for country staff and put you up either in Oxford or the STATE BANK college in Manly, don’t remember much though think we’d be drinkin before hand …

    Also nearly saw HEAVEN in the MANLY HOTEL , non of the other people I was with on the COURSE wanted to go so alas peer pressure took it’s toll ….

  3. There’s another good pinball doco called TILT…it’s about Williams and Pinball 2000….it was a sad day when the canned pinball manufacturing….

  4. “I remember walking through the fun pier and stepping over some cracks or small holes on the wharf floor and seeing the ocean below.” Great Post. Such great times as a kid in the 1970’s. Going to see movies across the road at the Odeon. Thanks this was great to read. Thank you.

  5. Hi Rockbrat, Loved your blog in the pinnies at the Fun Pier. I used to hang there too as a kid and grew up on the NB as well. I started up a local family history Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/LostManly/ for people to reminisce and share their memories of growing up on the northern beaches as well as share the unique history of the area going way back to its beginnings of european settlement that is… anyway I was googling any latest info on the fun pier when your blog came up and so I thought I’d post it to the group for the other 1700+ members to read and comment on. Come on and join the group and you can see the other info and pics we’ve accumulated on the fun pier too. My favourite pinny was King Pin. I was only around 10 when I used to hang out there all the time and I always thought Playboy was for the big kids 🙂

  6. Used to go there when I stayed at my Grandparents in Fairlight during the summer holiday in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
    If you went out past the old pinball machines there was an area with old wooden wall mounted games where you had to flick coins over an obstacle for it to come out the other side (or something like that). I remember the coins that had accumulated were mainly pre-decimal.
    You used to get a little tin badge when you made it through the mirror maze.

  7. I too found solstice at the fun pier in the early 70’s, my friend at the time was Arthur Townsend who’s father had the lease on the Dodgem’s and pinball parlour, we were dodgem jockey’s, helping people out of the wall and get them going again., after hours we would ramp up the electricity on the Dodgem’s, they used to fly., then we would get the keys to all the pinballs, we played every pinball machine in manly., we would also play acie doucie with the one legged night watchman, he would always win,. We were only kids,. We were able to go on every ride for free. The ghost train, octopus, upside down house,mirror maze (boring), the motor boats,etc,etc. I remember helping paint the new sharks head in the aquarium,.had a great time, surfed every beach from winki pop to palm beach.
    To Arthur Townsend,,, I still owe you a dollar for balancing a can of coke on your head from the beach all the way down the corso to the wharf,!!!!, still think if you man. I am now sixty and those memories will never fade….

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