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Long Jetty’s Rocket

Launch and Return of Long Jetty’s Rocket

The iconic red, yellow and blue rocket ship of Long Jetty has made a safe return to its launch pad in Lions Park.  In 2023, the rocket ship went into a temporary orbit around the Earth for a refresh, so that it can be preserved and enjoyed by the community for decades into the future.

But, do you know when and why the rocket ship first landed in Long Jetty? Let’s take a trip back in time to the Moon landing to find out more and learn about what happened when Long Jetty’s rocket had lift-off.

The Moon landing comes to Long Jetty

When Apollo 11 astronaut, Neil Armstrong, made history as the first person to take 'one small step’ onto the Moon’s surface in 1969, children were also stepping down from their very own rocket ships onto the grass and dirt of playgrounds around the world.

Rocket ships – like the one in Long Jetty – were built in playgrounds from the USA to the then USSR. Symbolic of the Cold War and space race between these countries to reach the Moon, these rocket ships were also about inspiring the imagination of the next generation to reach for the stars.

Long Jetty Rocket in 1975
Lions Park, Long Jetty 1975  
Source: The Entrance Lions Club

The very first Australian playground rocket was built in Blackheath, New South Wales during the early 1960s. John Yeaman, a town engineer, was inspired to recreate the iconic climbing equipment and slide with the help of metal manufacturer, Dick West, after seeing them in playgrounds throughout the USA. Nearly 40 rocket ships were built in playgrounds across Australia.

Long Jetty Rocket advertisement
Advertising for Dick West Play Equipment

The Long Jetty rocket ship is enshrined in the memories of generations for locals and tourists. For decades, children have been climbing the stairs into the rocket then sliding down the gleaming metal slide, before growing up and then bringing their own children to the park. The rocket has also been a familiar roadside landmark for cars driving along The Entrance Road.

While the Long Jetty rocket ship was not the first of its kind, it is one the main examples remaining in-tact. Many rocket ships over the decades fell into disrepair and were removed, while others were re-built entirely.

Long Jetty Rocket pre-2023 restoration
Long Jetty Rocket Ship prior to restoration 2023 
Source: Central Coast Council

Community votes on the future of the rocket ship

After many decades on the launch park, Central Coast Council made an announcement in March 2023 the rocket ship would be going in for a refresh. Underpinning the refresh was a need to preserve and bring up the rocket ship up to modern standards, so that the community can enjoy it for decades to come.

The community was asked to vote on their preferences for its future appearance. The first option was for essential repairs only with the rocket ship retaining its classic look. The second option was more ambitious, allowing for the top portion of the structure to re-open to the public for the first time in years, with the addition of an extra slide to bring it up to current standards.

Over 3,646 community votes were cast. The new and improved option was the clear winner, with 3,332 votes (91%). 324 votes (9%) were received for the keeping it classic option.  

In a first-of-its-kind operation, Lions Park was shut down for a few hours to allow crane access to the site and lift the rocket ship out in one piece before trucking it offsite for the repair work to begin.

Long Jetty Rocket relocation
Relocation of the Rocket Ship for Restoration 
Source: Central Coast Council

While in the workshop, the rocket ship underwent essential refurbishment works as well as the necessary upgrades required to open the top level and add the new slide. Repair work included replacing corroded metal, removing rust, upgrading access points and painting the rocket anew in its original colours.  The rocket ship then made its way back to its Long Jetty home in September 2023.

Long Jetty Rocket post-2023 restoration


Long Jetty Rocket post-2023 restoration
Installation of the refreshed Rocket Ship September 2023 
Source: Rick Gatt, Central Coast Council

With the return of Long Jetty’s iconic rocket, let’s inspire the next generation to reach for the stars.

Acknowledgements: The information on this page was prepared in conjunction with The Entrance Lions Club, Rotary Club of Blackheath, Art Cotterell, Coastal Incidental and Central Coast Council.

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