It’s a Sunday morning and I’m cruising the long desolate stretch of road outside of Geelong that was featured in the Mad Max car chase scenes. Stated destination: Fairy Park, Anakie. I try and imagine Snow White coming to life in this desert wasteland where apocalyptic road warriors once roamed. Up ahead, a giant statue of Gulliver beckons from the base of an extinct volcano. Passing go, we cheer in helium tones as we ascend to a giant pink castle rising above the gum trees. Created by two Germans in the late 1950s, Fairy Park is Australia’s oldest theme park. While it’s easy to cynically dismiss the concept as a gaudy family hell hole rather than a fun spot, on arrival I am immediately reunited with my sense of childhood wonder.
The fairytale replicas are carved out of existing granite. There’s no rules or regulations, and you are free to roam the Camelot grounds with your champagne disguised in a tupperware cup.
European folklore comes to life at the press of a button when you visit the magnificent handcrafted dioramas. Ali Baba dwells in a dark underground room filled with shining jewels and psychedelic lights that’s more chill out room than cave. The wolf from the three little pigs is a dapper chap in a candy coloured plaid suit, carrying a red rose. And an Australian 70s voice-over scolds Alice for being too tipsy at her own tea party.
When it’s time to get off the magic toadstool ride we rush to the gift shop to stock up on cheap souvenirs. Now when was the last time you were inspired to buy a plastic ruler from a theme park?