Remember SA’s Puzzle Park? Here’s your chance to buy it

Raine & Horne’s John DeMichele at Puzzle Park, which is on the market again. Picture: Tait Schmaal
Raine & Horne’s John DeMichele at Puzzle Park, which is on the market again. Picture: Tait Schmaal

Covered in rust and overgrown with weeds, the decaying slides and play equipment of Puzzle Park serve as an eerie reminder of what was once South Australia’s top tourism destination.

The former amusement park in Murray Bridge has remained untouched since its closure in 2007, but it is hoped the site can be revitalised once more.

Raine & Horne Real Estate are calling for expressions of interest for the 4.57ha site by January 24, with the sale to include a significant number of the park’s original slides, play equipment, huts, and a 20 megalitre water licence.

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According to CoreLogic, the site is currently owned by the Rivergum Homes Group, who purchased the 398 Jervois Rd property for $3.19 million in 2008.

The slippery dip at Puzzle Park during its heyday.

Go-karts at Puzzle Park.

The intent was to construct a retirement home, however, the initiative never took off despite overwhelming council support.

Selling agent John DeMichele says it is the hope of the Murray Bridge community to see the site developed into a new tourist attraction.

“It’s zoned Rural Living – Precinct 21 – Swanport, which means it’s an opportunity for a tourism development site, such as a motel, cabins, or caravan parks,” he said.

Matt Cooper and Shane Bormann on a paddleboat at Puzzle Park in 1994. Picture: Grant Nowell

The slides at Puzzle Park, Murray Bridge.

“Accommodation is very important in Murray Bridge and many of us believe that we don’t have enough for tourists and transit workers.

“Personally I would like to see the site developed into a caravan and cabin park with slides and attractions, so similar to the Big4 (Caravan Park). So something where you can stay for the weekend and have lots of activities to do.”

The brainchild of two Murray Bridge entrepreneurs, Puzzle Park opened in 1985 and for 22 years was one of the state’s best-loved family attractions, winning a swag of SA Tourism Awards.

The maze at Puzzle Park in 1990. Picture: Lisa Jacka

Puzzle Park in 2019. Picture: Tait Schmaal

More than 95,000 people visited the park in its first year of operation, including almost 3000 a day over Easter and October long weekends, with park highlights including a go-kart track, dry slides and waterslides, a giant maze, paddleboats, and a giant rocking horse.

But by 2004 crowds had dwindled, and after a number of sales and public liability issues, the embattled park was forced to close its doors in 2007.

Puzzle Park in 2019. Picture: Tait Schmaal

Puzzle Park in 2019. Picture: Tait Schmaal

“It was originally set up as an adult amusement park with enormous slides, go-karts, and all the big toys. But over the years, with new rules and regulations, it was transformed into a more family-friendly park and traded as such for many years,” Mr DeMichele said.

“Since it’s sold, it’s pretty much remained vacant and a lot of it is overgrown and in disarray.

“It would take a lot of effort to clean it all up and re-open it, which is why we’re pushing for a new tourist development that still encompasses fun park facilities.”

This article from The Advertiser originally appeared as “Here’s your chance to own your own theme park”.