The Broadbeach Carousel and the Rotary Club of Southport
The Broadbeach Carousel
In its early life the Carousel belonged to The Showman’s Guild touring the country.  It was then purchased by the Broadbeach Mall Committee and at that time upgraded by the Gold Coast City Council.  It operated for several years with financial support by way of a levy on Broadbeach Business but not successfully.
The Gold Coast City Council called for expressions of interest from local service organisations to operate the Carousel on a charitable basis.
The Southport Rotary Club was chosen and ran the Carousel for 10 years from 2009. During that time over 500,000 riders contributed nearly $1 million dollars, all of which was donated to Gold Coast Charities.
The agreement reached with Council was that the Council would maintain the Carousel at no cost to Rotary and that the Carousel would be operated for not less than 9-3pm on weekdays and longer on weekends, in fact the Carousel opened at 9am-9pm Friday through to Sunday and school holidays. It closed only for Christmas Day and Good Friday. The Council at that time did a major overhaul of the Carousel replacing the old wooden horses with bright fibreglass ones, as well as a complete mechanical upgrade. The charge for riding the horse was agreed as a gold coin donation.
A carousel committee was established in the Rotary Club to run the Carousel and distribute funds raised. It was decided to have 3 hour shifts and would require enormous commitment by Rotary Club Members to fill the shifts. In time it was realised that help would be needed from other Rotary Clubs and Volunteers.  Ashmore, Southport North, Broadbeach and Robina Rotary Clubs all worked shifts. It became obvious that the evenings in summer were busy and our volunteers were a great help in filling these shifts. The committee decided to distribute funds to these Rotary Clubs based on the number of shifts worked. At the same time all banking, reporting to Council and other administration was undertaken by Southport Rotary.
The Carousel was a loved feature in the Broadbeach Mall. Children loved it, Parents loved it and it was a very inexpensive treat for their Children. Grandparents found it an easy way to entertain their grandchildren.
The Carousel contributed to the family friendly atmosphere of the Broadbeach Mall. Holidays were planned for Broadbeach based on the safety and it being family friendly. Children had their favourite horses, each one having a name, and pink and purple were popular colours with young girls. As the Carousel was old great care had to be taken in spreading the weight to balance the Carousel. Families would dine out at local restaurants and a treat afterwards was for the children to ride the Carousel. It was a pleasant atmosphere.
Busier times included School Holidays, Summer Evenings, Public Holidays, Weekends as well as special events such as Blues, Country Music and Jazz Festivals. The annual Cheer Leaders competition at the Convention Centre sent hundreds of girls to the Carousel for rides. On one New Year’s Eve nearly 1,000 rides were recorded.
The Southport Rotary Club advertised for potential grant recipients. Recipient organisations must be not-for-profit and be Gold Coast based. In earlier years a cap of $5,000 was placed on grants to successful applicants. This figure was later relaxed. Over a 10 year period a wide ranging list of applicants were  successful, many being small organisations who struggled for funding. Examples include – Southport Meals on Wheels, Sailability, Surfers Paradise Girl Guides and Currumbin Special School for disability bicycles.
The most significant grant allocated was the final one, for the building of the Ashmore Men’s Shed. A sum of $65,000 was allocated for this. It is now a thriving organisation with membership approaching 100.
The tragic accident at Dreamworld was responsible for the Gold Coast City Council reviewing all assets it owned. The Carousel was upgraded to comply with new safety laws. However, they adopted a resolution “that the Broadbeach Carousel be de-commissioned and removed from the Broadbeach Mall” and the contract terminated in September 2018.
It is very much missed.