The carousel at the Perth Zoo was orignally build in Point Walter

Grace and Georgia Scolt, of Success, with carousel operator Alissa Harper. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d427952
Grace and Georgia Scolt, of Success, with carousel operator Alissa Harper. Picture: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d427952

REGULAR visitors to Perth Zoo, Grace (5) and Georgia (3) Scolt always finish off their visit with a ride on the carousel.

While they think of it as a fun way to end their day at the zoo, the story of the much-loved ride is fascinating, especially because it was built in Point Walter in 1918.

Back in those days it had just four horses and two boats. In 1947 a new merry-go-round featuring 20 horses and two boats was made by P.G. Wright, of McKimmie Street, Palmyra.

He began his trade in England as a 14-year-old working in a Savage & Co merry-go-round factory.

According to the November 5, 1947, edition of The Daily News, the carousel cost the Gardens Board 1600 pounds to purchase from Mr Wright and an additional 400 pounds for an overhead crank to enable the horses to classically rise and fall.

Painter Sam Briggs, of Palmyra, decorated it with 36 paintings of popular Walt Disney characters.

Mr Wright built three merry-go-rounds in WA and in 1920 he built a helter skelter (a slide around a tower) used at Point Walter.

Today, 69-year-old Frank Burtenshaw ” known as the man who makes the 24 horses turn ” is the main carousel operator and has been the regular face for the past 16 years.

Before he became the carousel guru, which also involves regularly changing all 408 light globes, he drove a train transporting people around the zoo grounds.

Mr Burtenshaw said he loved seeing the children’s smiles and joy when they hopped onto the carousel.

‘I had a girl come here one day from Variety and they told me she hadn’t smiled in four years; well, she did when she got on the carousel,’ he said.

‘It’s hard to be grumpy when you have children around you smiling all the time.

‘It is a marvellous job.’

As for Grace and Georgia, they just adore the horses and music.


The Horse-Drawn Timeline
1947: After WWII the Garden Board wanted to replace the 5.6m merry go round with a larger one. The carousel now featured 20 horses and two boats and displayed Disney characters.
1960s: The boats were replaced by two pairs of horses.
1991: Extensive renovation.