King Carnival owner David Miller fights for Mandurah lease renewal

BOLD PLANS: An excerpt from concept plans for the site (left) and a night shot of the 60-year-old ferris wheel. Images: Supplied and File Image.
BOLD PLANS: An excerpt from concept plans for the site (left) and a night shot of the 60-year-old ferris wheel. Images: Supplied and File Image.

The owner of King Carnival says he wants to spend millions of dollars on upgrades but won't unless he gets a long-term lease.

Residents are petitioning for the City of Mandurah to renew the lease for the iconic carnival on the western foreshore.

The current commercial lease expired in March and owner David Miller has been granted a temporary six months lease to continue operating.

All proposals considered

The City of Mandurah is advertising for future tenants but hasn't ruled out continuing Mr Miller's lease.

"Given the significance of the location, a competitive expression of interest process will be undertaken to find the best outcome," Mayor Rhys Williams said. "...we welcome expressions of interest from any operator who has a proposal...including from the current King Carnival operators."

BIG INVESTMENT: There are tentative plans to upgrade to an international mini golf course. Photo: File Image

BIG INVESTMENT: There are tentative plans to upgrade to an international mini golf course. Photo: File Image

18-year bid for a long-term lease

In the past 18 years, Mr Miller's renewals have been for either three or five years. He says he has been waiting since 2003 to get a long-term lease.

"You can't invest money with a lease that short," Mr Miller said.

"We want to do millions of dollars in upgrades but we can't if we can't guarantee we will be there for the long term. We don't want to put all this money in and then have the council turn around and say they want to put in a hotel or something else."

All being considered

Mr Williams said the City could award a long-term lease only after going through a formal expression of interest process.

"This means that the successful proponent will have the certainty needed to make a sizeable investment into the site," he said.

"...this process will determine the use of this site for the next few decades, so it is important that we take the time to get it right."

City officers are expected to present a report to the Mandurah council in the coming months.

Upgrade plans

Golf course ideas - an excerpt from a concept plan prepared by Future World Design in 2020.

Golf course ideas - an excerpt from a concept plan prepared by Future World Design in 2020.

Two years ago, Mr Miller's company put an application into the City of Mandurah for a major upgrade, based on concept plans by a leading Queensland amusement architect.

Plans include $1 million to upgrade the mini golf course and $100,000 for a new lighting package for the iconic 60-year-old ferris wheel.

"The mini golf is really popular and we want to upgrade it to an international mini golf course - we want to have the best," Mr Miller said. "But no-one is going to spend that sort of money if in a year's time apartments are approved for the site."

Spectacular rides in summer

Mr Miller, who has been in the amusement industry since 1983, wants to upgrade the site and lease major rides in summer.

"We want to to bring in the Wild Mouse and other spectacular rides in the summer months," he said. "In winter when there are less visitors we would take them out and just keep the mini golf, ferris wheel, small children's rides and some other bigger rides."

He says his attempts to get have upgrade the park have been stalled.

The carnival flooded during last year's storms. Photo: File Image

The carnival flooded during last year's storms. Photo: File Image

"The council has had 18 years to figure it out," Mr Miller said. "I don't think the council want us there and that's a shame because we have a lot of history and people love the carnival."

The council has had 18 years to figure it out.

David Miller

King Carnival has been operating in Mandurah for nearly 66 years old, previously on the eastern foreshore where Reading Cinema is now located, moving to the western foreshore in 1992.

If the lease is not renewed, the rides would be sold and the remainder of the park bulldozed down.

500 signatures and counting

The petition started by resident Sharon Johnson to save the carnival attracted only 500 signatures in its first day.

Perth woman Cheryl Conrad signed the petition on Thursday.

"I grew up in Mandurah and the ferris wheel and rides were an important activity for us when young," she said. "I can still travel to Mandurah to have fun there with my grandchildren. We have had parties there. Where else is there such a facility in the Perth/Peel area."

King's carnival by night. Photo: File Image.

King's carnival by night. Photo: File Image.

"An icon (like the Mandurah bridge was!) that needs to be preserved for future generations, plain, old fashioned fun," Mandurah resident Jodi Bassett-Scarfe stated.

Resident Belinda Brown said she had memories attending the carnival as a child.

"King Carnival has been around longer than I have," Ms Brown said. "I have wonderful memories when it was at its original location and then taking my cousins, nieces and nephew, then my own children.

"Traditionally we used to go every Easter Sunday night for years and years. Our community needs to have places like King Carnival for families to go to and spend time together. If it is in need of a face lift, then state that in the lease but don't let the city lose the iconic carnival."