Jobe

Scenic World/ Orphan Rocker Exploration Video

9 posts in this topic

Hi guys- happy Sunday!! Just perusing Youtube and saw this excellent video on Scenic World and of particular interest to me, the never opened Orphan Rocker.

The poster does a good job of giving a great over view of the entire ride as it currently stands and does a bit of urban exploration around the site.

In this we see:

  • The resting place of the previous Scenic Railway ( replaced by the current one in early  2013)
  • The resting place of the 2nd Scenic Skyway ( replaced in 2017)
  • He walks quite a good part of the existing Orphan Rocker track and we also get to see the trains up close, which is very interesting.
  • He also explores a disused path ( in thongs!!!!!!!😲- make that of what you will ) to the nearby Orphan Rock feature to which access has been closed to since the '50's
  • He also gets some great footage of the Scenic Railway as it journeys down near the Orphan Rock formation.

We all know that the Orphan Rocker has never opened and this video really puts the final nail in the coffin to the question COULD it ever open. Sadly, with subsequent additions to the Scenic Railway and the Skyway, the loading station for the ride has since been removed as has also several pieces of track along the course.

This ride will forever go down in Australian amusement park history and indeed the world as one of the biggest "what if's" that never reached fruition.

Scenic World appear quite content to leave whats remaining of Orphan Rocker to slowly decay and fall apart , which is of course a massive shame. I do remember seeing an interview article with Anthea Hammon , the current Managing Director of Scenic World ( and daughter of Scenic World founder , Phillip Hammon) where she explains  that the the Orphan Rocker "just doesnt fit in with the current direction of Scenic World" . Any hopes for any revival of this ride in its current form or even a new refurbished form are virtually nil.

 

 

 

Here is the second video posted by Gareth that focuses on Scenic World and its other attractions- its also good viewing.

Here is also the link to the most current article on the Orphan Rocker from the Daily Telegraph in January 2019. ( Beware, you may be hit by a paywall here )

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/scenic-world-md-anthea-hammon-reveals-what-happened-to-the-orphan-rocker-roller-coaster/news-story/40ddd7cf1b0e8570830ab6e67315cec8

In case you cannot see it, I have posted it below for all.

The article does have some quite excellent rare pics of the ride in operation and with passengers on board.

Scenic World MD Anthea Hammon reveals what happened to the Orphan Rocker roller coaster

Nicole Hogan, The Daily Telegraph

January 23, 2019 10:21am

IT has been the centre of conspiracy theories, rumour and curiosity for over 30 years.

The Orphan Rocker at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains was dubbed ‘the world’s scariest rollercoaster’ by enthusiasts and ‘dangerous’ by online theme park forums.

It started in the 1980s as a passion project for Scenic World owner Harry Hammon and his son Phil.

In 1985, Harry told the media, “It’s a frightening ride ... it really will be bit of a horror”.

17f5a780a7e0be60de46b57e7c1700e0?width=650 The Orphan Rocker at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains

The 840-metre steel coaster was anticipated to be the first of its kind — an Australian-made and manufactured thrill ride — with carriages like coal mine carts, darting through the forest, plunging down tunnels and towering 200-metres above the rainforest floor.

Over time, theories would surface grasping to explain delays in the ride opening.

 

Some would say the coaster was unsafe, claiming sand-filled test dummies were hurled from carriages zipping around cliffhanging bends.

Others reported locals didn’t want the noise associated with a thrill ride; others would hypothesise the ride was built incorrectly, by unqualified engineers, and some speculated it was the local council who wouldn’t approve it.

f1b6312a1a3d52f64cf7924e6fce5b08?width=650 The Rocker was the brainchild of Phil Hammon

“We don’t generally comment on the Orphan Rocker,” says Anthea Hammon, the third generation family member to manage the major tourist attraction.

“To be honest, it is what it is. I am happy to grow and evolve Scenic World and the Rocker didn’t fit with what we were doing. So, I wasn’t particularly heartbroken by it.”

Which is surprising as Ms Hammon admits she was so enthralled by roller coasters as a youngster, she wrote to American theme parks to ascertain how to build them.

c19a06c3ba3d6d5e7e8105579a1148ef?width=650 The 840-metre steel coaster was anticipated to be the first of its kind

“I just loved roller coasters,” says Ms Hammon. “I went to all the ones in Queensland and there was one at Wonderland in the 1980s. I first went on one when I was about eight, we went to Expo 88, and that’s what really started it for me.

“I went on the really cool suspended coaster they had, I can still vividly remember it because it made such an imprint on me.

“During high school I wrote to a few roller coaster companies in America and asked ‘What sort of engineers do you employ? Because that’s what I want to be’ and that is what drove me to study mechanical engineering.”

597b282558e8d661fecc6aa7d3557147?width=650 The Orphan Rocker had rocking carriages like coal mine carts

Ms Hammon adds that the demise of the Orphan Rocker and the incessant conspiracies clouding it are tedious.

“Honestly, it is a pretty boring reason why it didn’t open, and that is, we had so many visitors that my father needed to dedicate his time to building the cableway and creating different attractions for the site.

“I think when there is a really boring story people fill the void with something that is more interesting.

d4f39a29187aac2bea9faa18412ec60e?width=650 Darting through the forest

“We were pushing a million visitors a year off the back of a wave of Japanese visitors in the early 90s and Dad knew the sort of attraction they wanted, which was another cable car and to get better access into the back of the valley.

“He spent six years, more than six years developing that, so by the time he planned it, got that through council, got it built and opened it in 2000, he had to dedicate all his time to that. “When you are in business, you need to build a business strategy that is going to support the market that you are delivering your product to,” says Ms Hammon.

06f0ce06c1b3ca37c55ca337a4fb04d4?width=650 Plunging down tunnels

While not heartbroken the Rocker never officially opened, Ms Hammon says her obsession with roller-coasters has transformed into something else.

“Yes I have a fascination with roller coasters, but equally now I have a fascination with cable cars. I want to go to Switzerland one day to work on cable cars over there,” says Ms Hammon.

“I think the roller coaster obsession was a teenage thing that I moved past. I love rides now, but it’s not a fascination I have anymore.

9bb8ba1d55a2af89d85c9ff53d780e91?width=650 Towering 200-metres above the rainforest floor

“I am really happy to see the way Scenic World has evolved to where it is and building the new train was just an amazing experience and is probably better than any rollercoaster we put in because it is our hero product.”

Hammon adds, “Whatever we build at Scenic World needs to fit with our customers and what they are telling us they want, and the demographic of the people we have visiting — which is why we just upgraded the Skyway — putting 30 per cent more capacity in that because that’s what people want to go on.

d8a2c9aaf0ee6936bddb9e50ace19b41?width=650 Parts of the abandoned rollercoaster remain in place at the site. Picture: Facebook

Engaging visitors is a high priority and Ms Hammon has an intuitive vision of what Scenic World is, and what it isn’t. “We are a funny mix of an attraction — we are not an amusement park, we are not a theme park, but we aren’t just a board walk, we are not rides, but we are a bit history, we kind of fit into quite a few boxes — which gives you that authentic mountain experience,” says Hammon.

“We are not trying to be a theme park, it doesn’t fit the environment that you are in — theme parks are normally in a created space, whereas we have a natural environment — this beautiful backdrop to work with makes it much easier to provide that authentic experience — rather than saying ‘here is the environment!’ and ramming that down people’s throats.”

Today some parts of the structure are still visible, overgrown with vegetation, discoloured and lying abandoned.

‘I WAS EIGHT WHEN I TOLD STAFF I WOULD RUN THE PLACE’

Growing up in a natural wonderland definitely had its perks for Anthea Hammon, but how does a girl grow up to run one of NSW’s most successful tourist attractions?

“My dad used to work six days a week, Sunday through to Friday and I had the great joy of coming to work with him most Sundays, from about the age of five, until I moved away for university.

“Initially when I small I would follow him around and do everything he did and that’s where I got my love of engineering from, following him around when he was working on rides or pinball machines or maintaining the boilers.

eef3db43356c69eebbd8332638bc2c3d?width=650 Managing Director of Scenic World Anthea Hammon sits on the remains of the Orphan Rocker. Picture: Adam Taylor

“I have four siblings, but none of them really did that as much as I did. That was my time with dad, as well as the seed for my love of all things engineering.

“Old staff members have told me when I was eight years old I used to yell from the platforms that I was going to run this place one day,” says Ms Hammon laughing,

“But I grew out of that, I think as a little kid you always want to do what your parents do, yet I always wanted to be an engineer.

“I decided I wanted to build roller coasters, so most of my high school years were driven by that. I did all those types of subjects to achieve it. I did my thesis on things up here at work and that meant being involved back in the business.

70e9135634f879f6772fc491118ed5d2?width=650 Theories surfaced grasping to explain the rides demise

“At that time, after a break going to Sydney for university. I thought I want to come back. We were doing a lot of redevelopment at the time, we were rebuilding the Skyway in 2003 — we have just rebuilt it again — so that really got me interested. I thought ‘I don’t want to go and work in a car factory’, I would really love to come and work here and at that point in time dad needed help, so I stepped into the business.”

Ms Hammon says the family ties to the business are deeply entrenched. “My grandfather was working in the business until he was about 90 and my great aunt, used to work in the ticket box.

“We would go out walking our my mum on weekends, and we’d walk down the Furber Stairs and catch the train back up, but my aunt wouldn’t let us out of the train without a kiss on the cheek — that was the ticket price for the ride. I have really beautiful memories of growing up within the family business.

82b23ace15cc736425d88c13f97a6123?width=650 Some said the coaster was unsafe, claiming sand-filled test dummies were hurled from the carriages

“My brother worked here as well, as joint managing director for five years. He has an economics and commerce background, so he and I had this excellent complementary set of skills set that when we started running the business together — me with engineering and him with the finance side of it — was brilliant when we were undertaking $30 million dollars of investment in the new scenic railway.”

Ms Hammon explains this was very much a legacy left to her by her Dad, Phil.

“When I started, dad was already undertaking the redevelopment of the Skyway — he had rebuilt the main building — I came in and took a load off his hands managing the maintenance team and organising all the maintenance for the new rides. Initially I was more of a project engineer and over time took on more.”

3a5962a6c53c8c9c636b559674cb77ec?width=650 Anthea and Phil Hammon

The constant cycle of upgrading and reinventing the attractions cemented Ms Hammon’s future in the business.

“With the new train in 2013, it just got to the point where like every 20 years we have to refresh the rides because that’s the design life. It was like we have the choice of either buying a new gear box and motor, or building something new, something that’s really going to engage with our customers and be what the next generation of customers expect.

“We put in the changeable seats with the cliffhanger and laid-back options and created a bit of interactivity, which is what the customers are really telling us they want.

“Was it daunting? Sure, it is always daunting. Rebuilding your main attraction and we had negative feedback from people saying ‘how dare you change the ride, we loved the old train’ and I agree the old train had its glamour, but it had its challenges and unfortunately with things like this you have to move with the times and keep upgrading.”

f29f202b96acc224f6838b0eb2b9441a?width=650 Scenic World attracts millions of visitors a year

SUPPORTING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

As a way of formalising the Hammon’s generosity in supporting the Blue Mountains community, the family recently launched a new program, sharing what they do with locals.

“Last year we launched the share program — a philanthropic program where we give three per cent of our profits back to the community,” says Ms Hammon.

“ We have partnered with the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, Schools Plus, the Foundation for Rural and Original Renewal and Western Sydney University, to help education at all levels.

7406b4149ed036690c35141b69bab12d?width=650 Scenic World is home to world’s steepest railway

“It’s really about building within our community, better skills, and better school finishing rates so that we can create more skilled people who then contribute back to our community up here.

“This all links back to those family values of getting people to work and live in the Mountains and be part of the community."

 

So that appears to be the final word on Orphan Rocker- RIP. It would have been an absolutely AMAZING ride if it had opened and it would have attracted hundreds of coaster enthusiasts from around the world to come and ride. What a shame that it is nothing now but a case of what could have been and consigned to being just a footnote in our amusement park history.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post but PLEASE NOBODY EVEN THINK ABOUT REPEATING THE ACTIONS OF THE GUY IN THE VIDEO. 

If there is any mention of such things we will have to remove this thread. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, T-bone said:

This takes me back to the days when there was someone on here who was obsessed with the counterweight.

Great find Jobe, thanks for sharing.

Hahaha yeah I remember that guy!!! Obsessed isnt the word!!! It was unhealthy!! 

1 hour ago, djrappa said:

Great post but PLEASE NOBODY EVEN THINK ABOUT REPEATING THE ACTIONS OF THE GUY IN THE VIDEO. 

If there is any mention of such things we will have to remove this thread. 

Yeah thanks @djrappa, you are absolutely right. I had meant to post originally that the actions of the guy in the video are not exactly legal- if you view the video there are several instances of trespass which cannot be ignored. Please dont take this as any way shape or form that anyone on these boards condones such actions- play it safe people!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While the story of the Orphan Rocker is an interesting one, the problem with the coaster is that it would more than likely would have failed had it actually opened.

It would have been a world's first attraction, made by a unreputed company who hadn't built a roller coaster before or since. How often do you find successful inhouse built steel roller coasters? Well, needless to say, until the opening of Cannibal at Lagoon in 2015, there weren't any. For very good reason.

You look at some of those transitions on the ride and they make you scratch your head look worse than even the worst Arrow/Vekoma loopers. No doubt it would have been an incredibly rough ride.

At least the concept of the Orphan Rocker is now rideable, and done properly in the form of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Parkz Crew

    Support Parkz... join the Crew for:

    • Ad-banner free viewing
    • Parkz Crew profile badge
    • Extended editing
    • See who's liked your posts
    • Purchase discounts

    Join Now from $20/yr

  • Recently Browsing

    No registered users viewing this page.