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21 November 2020
The entire Lifestyle Wimmera Edition 6 is available online. READ IT HERE!
By Andrew Dowdell
Generations of Australians have fond memories of playing arcade pinball machines, which have become one of this year’s most sought-after collectables.
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That renewed interest has sparked optimism in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown for Lyndon Carter, who with his father Simon, runs the Australian Pinball Museum at Nhill.
The Australian Pinball Museum usually attracts an array of visitors as varied as the collection of vintage and rare ‘pinnies’ themselves.
“It has become a mecca for pinball enthusiasts and there has been a big resurgence this year in people wanting to have a machine at home, especially in their man caves,” Lyndon said.
“When a lot of industries have taken a hit, pinball prices have gone through the roof and almost doubled – maybe because people have been stuck at home.”
The museum is a walk and play through pinball history, with 46 machines on display including an iconic KISS machine and other rarities gathered over decades.
“I grew up with them because my parents ran an arcade business in Adelaide, so for me they were as normal a part of life as a television,” Lyndon said.
“Then about 10 years ago I began to develop more of an interest in them. They have been such an important and fun part of so many people’s lives.”
Lyndon’s enthusiasm to share his passion is evident by the free entry for visitors who want to browse the collection, many of whom have stayed vivid in his memory.
“My favourite was a guy in his 90s who came in. He hadn’t played a game since the 1940s and he loved playing them all,” he said.
“We have lots of other visitors who say they haven’t seen a pinball machine from the 1970s for so long and it brings back lots of great memories for them.”
The museum had been hosting monthly tournaments for enthusiasts with a competitive edge and will resume the competitions when Victoria returns to ‘COVID normal’.
“We have our regulars and people from Adelaide and Melbourne. We had a couple who flew from Brisbane to Melbourne then hired a car to drive here to play the machines all weekend,” Lyndon said.
“There is nothing like this in Australia. We have the largest selection of pinball machines to play in Australia. There are bigger ones in America, because of course the US does everything bigger.”
Despite the lucrative dollars on offer, the Carters have no plans to sell any of their unique collection.
“We haven’t sold any and we will keep as many as we can. We can always use parts from ones in storage to keep the museum ones running so that people can come along and relive their youth or discover pinball for the first time,” Lyndon said.
He said the museum officially opened in 2016 after he and his father decided their unique collection might help attract travellers to stop at Nhill.
“I’ve missed all the people coming by from Australia and all around the world, and I get a thrill from the joy they bring to so many people,” he said.
“It’s a bucket-list thing for some people and others are international tourists who stumble upon us, but with the ban on overseas travel we won’t have them for some time.”
The Australian Pinball Museum is part of the Carters’ Oasis Motel, which they bought when they moved to the Wimmera in 2008.