Castle Fun Park

Las Vegas was my adopted hometown because a) having a hometown is nice, but it doesn't always naturally happen for some of us, and b) Las Vegas is very easy to adopt. Newcomers are part of a longstanding cultural tradition.

If there's a c), it's that Las Vegas history was a pleasure to embrace. So many stories and dreams, big characters, cool architecture, and often the physical ruins left behind to be explored and pondered (and photographed over and over).

I've always liked ruins. (Yes, I know how chic ruins are these days, and yes, I know that the only thing more annoying than a cultural lemming is to be that person who even begins to imply that they liked something before it was cool.) Sometimes I ask Mike why he wouldn't want to live in England. I mean, c'mon. Australia? England? Easy transition. But he always says no, and I always sigh. "All those Roman ruins. Celtic ruins. Victorian ruins. Tudor ruins. All those trains that take you to all those ruins." Sigh.

I was worried that when I came to Western Australia there just wouldn't be enough ruins to satisfy me. Young country, comparatively good economy, population tending to stick to certain areas (leading to more re-building and caretaking than I'm used to).

So, I was a happy little bluebird the first time I went to my father-in-law's house up in Mandurah. "Mike! What's that?"

Mandurah Castle Fun Park

"Oh yeah, it's a castle thing."

"What is it???!!!" (Alas, I really do speak with extra punctuation sometimes.)

"It was a park. It's been there a long time."

"What was inside? Did you go? What happened?"

"Oh, I never went."

Okay, this is a man who at age 40 still dreams almost every night about childhood years spent at his grandparents' beach house. How did he never go to a castle? Even if it was just a facade to entertain children?

"My cousins went. I was just into fishing, I guess."

Well, bleh.

When we went up to Mandurah again recently, I asked Mike if we could stop at the castle. "I just want to look at it properly and take a couple of photos."

Mike gamely pulled into the dirt road around the back and waited in the car.

Mike and the Old Spooky Place

(I wish I'd closed the door when I got out, but I was "only going to be a minute." The mosquitoes - sorry, "mozzies" - ended up being rather fierce. Meanwhile, you may think we must discuss the sad fuzzy blue car seat covers, but I'm pretty sure we must never mention them again, ever.)

Later that night I read up on "Castle Fun Park" and was able to tell Mike all the things he ought to have known. Like, how it used to have a swimming pool in the shape of Australia. Only sixteen years ago it was clean and charming with all sorts of buildings, not just the castle:

A quick Google reveals plenty of sentiment (and better information that I can attempt to provode here) about the place. I'm still not really sure what happened other than the old standby of the economy.

I didn't get to explore as much as I'd wanted to (dinner plans, mosquitoes), so I didn't go further into the wild field to see how the pool looks now. Some water feature foundations are visible from the road, so I'm hopeful. It's still visible on Google Maps.

(I also really hope that there even is a next time, and that if there is, I'm bearing a proper camera.)

The small buildings across from the castle were gone when we came by. I was a bit distracted by the castle, but since we parked right by where they should be, I'm fairly sure they're gone.

(Update: I checked Google Earth so I could look at different images of the park over time. What Google Maps is showing is an image from 2008. In the photos from 2010-2012, those buildings are gone.)

While I was there, a French woman wandered around with her young son, making him pose here and there while a man waited in the car. I wouldn't recommend visiting the site alone as the castle is obviously not a stranger to overnight visitors.

Castle Sunbeam

I've seen very little tagging since coming to Australia. Sadly, the castle is a huge exception.

Castle Steps

These stairs look so white and innocent, like a little slice of Disneyland, in the video above. (Somewhere around the 1:15 mark.)

Front of Castle

Black paint over the graffiti on this side adds that special kind of "not even going to try to save it" sadness. Now the castle looks like a piece of setting from a high school play.

Castle and Moat

Sacrificial Tub

Inside the Sacrificial Tub

Libra Panel

Scorpio Panel

When I was a kid, my Dad used to take me to abandoned structures where he'd scavenge for interesting bits of timber or glass that he'd then incorporate into features he added to our home. If I were crafty with jackhammers, I'd ask the current owner if I could step ahead of the bulldozer to take these Libra and Scorpio panels for some future garden wall in some future house of ours.

(Alas, I'm so un-crafty with jackhammers that I'm not even sure that's the tool of choice for removing a slab from the side of a fountain intact.)

The bulldozer is a real threat at the moment. For some crazy-pants reason, Bunnings (which is like a Home Depot/Lowe's) wants to put a warehouse right on this lot. I like capitalism and retail as much as the next person, but this is a quiet residential neighbourhood, and Mandurah already has Bunnings, Masters, etc. Just look at Street View on the map link, or zoom out a bit. It doesn't make sense to throw a big box store right next to the houses.

(Speaking of boxes, I'll put the soap back in mine and return to the photos.)

(But here's a Facebook page with more information if you're interested.)

Castle Detail

Castle Archway

See that little blue square tile on the ground? There were several by the door, so I grabbed one for that future garden wall. (If I'd had a sack, I would've scooped up the lot - I am my father's daughter after all - but, you know, I was only going to be away from the car for a minute...)

Inside the Castle (with Inevitable Mattress)

The inevitable mattress. Surely this damage didn't just occur in the past two years?

(In its heyday.)

Inside the Castle

I know it was only a silly little park that even Mike never visited, but it catches the heart to see something so innocuous rendered to trash. Sometimes I roll my eyes at the currently fashionable idea among English teachers that everything can be referred to as a "text." Not just books and movies and paintings but sounds and clothing and a stray piece of popcorn crunched beneath your shoe. Then I look at Castle Fun Park and think, yeah, that's a text.

Wildflower at Castle Fun Park

02 September 2013 |

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