Backward Glance – The sound of fun echoes through the years
  • Friday 17 January 2020

There was once a water slide park at Alexandra Headland. It was the result of Andrew and Anna Vizis’ grandchildren constantly nagging for a waterslide to play on.

Andrew was a mechanical engineer, and soon got to work designing, researching and gaining council approval for a waterslide. The Pacific Super Slide opened in 1986, there were five slides operating. Two years later the couple sold the complex and the owners renamed it the Olympia Theme Park.

In an interview with Sunshine Coast Daily, Anna recalled the many happy memories shared with their grandchildren during the school holidays and how she would put money into the pool early in the morning and wake the kids up, telling them the pool needed cleaning. They loved it.

In 2006 the park was demolished.

The Black Hole Waterslide built and run by Max and Denise Morris and family in Currimundi boasted three giant waterslides, mini-golf, video games, cold drinks, hot and cold food, bar and supervision by adults.

The Black Hole was not for the faint-hearted, as the name suggests, the slides were blacked out so you never knew where you were sliding or when the next turn was. Many brave souls, young and old, screamed like banshees as a result.

At the time it was the second largest tourist attraction on the Sunshine Coast. It was open from 1982-1985.

In the 1980s the Mighty Putt and Water Wonderland featured Australia’s longest waterslide, 18 holes of mini golf and fun for all the family, where the sun shines bright. It was open daily and situated near the Golden Beach turn-off in downtown Caloundra. 

Of course there was also the Tanawha waterslide which gained fame as Australia’s biggest regional waterslide, standing 182 meters tall. It has since become an icon in the small regional town of Kulin in Western Australia. The slide was transported across the country by a band of volunteers from the small town.

If you had your fill of thrills and spills on the waterslides, there were many other attractions to visit. 

The Pioneer Village, or as it later became, Nostalgia Town at Pacific Paradise was a theme park that promised a “laugh at the past”.  

A scaled reproduction of an 1863 steam train took visitors on a ride through a range of settings, such as the dinosaur swamp and the Enchanted Tunnel. Props and technologies depicted nostalgic and humorous stories of the past through a narrative adventure involving three convicts.

There were remote-controlled boats, silent movies, mini cars, mini golf and Albert’s Incredible Time Machine – which took you back in time. One young visitor described it as being “pretty cool”. Nostalgia Town was sold in 2003.

Who could forget the Super Bee at Tanawha? Memories have been written of geese attacks at the duck pond, with the geese getting sugar highs from the Ironbark honey, having your photo taken with the three bears in their cottage as well as hanging out with Jack in the house he built, and of course, Snow White’s little cottage. It closed its hive in 2008.

The year of 1978 saw the Grand Opening of Tanawha World. The complex was built by Derek and Marylou Heiser and offered entertainment for both adults and children. It featured a life-size model of an Australian dinosaur and pictorial information relating to dinosaurs, a jungle river boat ride and bush tour by train. Visitors could also enjoy sapphire mining, birds, kangaroos or just a relaxing stroll through the grounds.

The park also had Australia’s first skid pad – a concrete bike track where children over the age of 11 years were allowed to drive motorised vehicles and learn how to control them in a skid situation.

The grand opening advertisement listed activities such as meeting “Ping Pong” the Tanawha gorilla, train and boat rides, dairy goats, 4NA radio car and a Coast Guard display as well as steak and salad at the family restaurant for $2.75. The park was placed on the market in 1983.

In 1980, Queensland’s first drive through deer park was completed. The park covered 21 hectares of forest country on the Bruce Highway and no Sunshine Coast holiday was complete without a drive through the park with a brown paper bag of feed for the animals and birds. You could also cuddle a koala and be entertained by two wildlife shows through the day. In 1990 the park went into receivership.

The Big Pineapple structure has iconic and landmark status as one of Australia's most well-known Big Things. It holds a fond place in the memories of many domestic and overseas tourists who drove or were driven north of Brisbane on holiday road trips after 1971.

Apart from the iconic value of the Big Pineapple structure itself, as a roadside attraction of the Big Thing variety, the entire 40-hectare complex, with its retail and restaurant spaces, train ride and Nutmobile, crops, rainforest, Macadamia Nut Factory, Big Macadamia, Tomorrow's Harvest greenhouse, Farm Show, Wildlife Gardens, and Animal Nursery, represented early agri-tourism in Queensland.

Everyone had to climb the pineapple and indulge themselves with the world-famous big pineapple sundae.

The Sunshine Coast’s most iconic tourism attraction – the Big Pineapple – will soon return to its glory days following Sunshine Coast Council’s approval of a multi-million-dollar renewal project.

The approved master plan will ensure a sustainable future for the 169-hectare site by leveraging the Big Pineapple’s strong brand and history, focusing on a combination of eco-tourism, agribusiness, supporting local producers, as well as providing entertainment opportunities, outdoor educational facilities and accommodation.

Further information about the development application can be viewed on council's Developmenti or for project updates visit www.bigpineapplerenewal.com.

The Coast will always be known for its natural attractions of sun, surf, sand and rainforests, but it brings a smile to remember all the other fun attractions, albeit a bit whacky, that have come and gone over the years.

Thanks to the Heritage Library staff for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images