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Caribbean Gardens facts for kids

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Caribbean Gardens was a 100 acres (0.40 km2) market, gardens and amusement park located in the outer eastern suburb of Scoresby in Melbourne, Australia.

Caribbean Gardens and Market operated from 1965 when it started with only a handful of traders selling wares from their car boots and Water ski shows. What once was “a handful of traders” grew into a bustling undercover market with over 1000 stall sites. It was known as one of the largest markets in Victoria, occupying a 10,500 m2 pavilion.

The market offered hundreds of different products ranging from fresh produce, accessories, huge computer and IT section, household products, men's, women's and kids clothing and shoes, tools and toys. Rides and entertainment also operated in the Gardens during market hours, including:

  • 9-Hole Mini Golf in Japanese Gardens
  • 5 km Train around the perimeter of Caribbean Gardens
  • Jungle Cruise boat ride around Lake Caribbean
  • Chair Lift

Caribbean Gardens and Market was situated at the foothills of the Dandenong's in Scoresby, just 25 km from Melbourne. Caribbean Gardens and Market was open from 8.30 am every Wednesday, and Sunday, closed Good Friday and Christmas Day it used to be open on Friday.

On the 1st of July 2020, it was announced that the park would close permanently after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a temporary closure which greatly impacted the park financially. Despite the closure, 'Caribbean Market supporters are calling for the “institution” to be saved'. After the official announcement, the Facebook post on the Caribbean Market's page attracted over 5000 comments of support.

History

In 1945, A.W. Spooner acquired 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land in Scoresby which he named "Dalmore Park". On this land he built a French Provincial mansion.

In 1958, whilst overseas, he found the material known as fibreglass and realised its potential in the boat-building industry. Soon after, he established the Caribbean Boat Factory. It soon became necessary to have a lake for the testing of the boats and in the early 1960s, Lake Caribbean was built. It was subsequently opened to the public and developed by one of his sons, Rod Spooner, as Caribbean Gardens.

The site is significant being Victoria's "first local example" of a theme park, with many original features (Japanese gardens, railway, chairlift, jungle cruise & picnic areas) still intact today.

It was noted in the Woman's Weekly, 1966 that the Spooner family 'aims to turn the area into a kind of local Disneyland, and already the shores many islets at one end of the lake are dotted with fl fibreglass crocodiles, elephants, hippopotamuses'. The park also included 'ski kite-riding from the Cypress Gardens' in the US.

The chairlift ride was built by Jack Griffiths and chairlift manufacturer Ron McCallum, originally from Whistlestop Amusement Park in Skye Road, Frankston which closed in 1974.

Caribbean Gardens also has a preserved sugarcane locomotive (1924) from Victoria Mill, Ingham.

The park also has a number of other features including cast iron street lamps originally from Melbourne dotted around the gardens.

Caribbean Park is now set to expand. This comprehensive masterplan will deliver new office buildings, expansive parkland, integrated landscaping, new retail areas, lifestyle facilities and more.

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