Australian Pinball Museum - Nhill

Australian Pinball Museum - Nhill


The Australian Pinball Museum features pinballs from a wide range of eras including Electromechanical, Solid State, Dot-Matrix-Display and LCD Monitor.

There is over 80 years of pinball history on display and available to play.

The Australian Pinball Museum showcases a large amount of original pinball advertising memorabilia such as original advertising flyers, posters, and promotional products.

Pinball machines available to play at the museum:

- AC/DC Back in Black (Stern 2012)
- Aerosmith Pro (Stern 2017)
- Airway (Bally 1937)
- Banzai Run (Williams 1988)
- Black Knight Pro (Stern 2019)
- Champ (Bally 1974)
- College Queens (Gottlieb 1969)
- Creature from the Black Lagoon (Bally 1992)
- Dracula (Williams 1993)
- Devil Riders (Zaccaria 1984)
- Elvira's House of Horrors Premium (Stern 2019)
- Fashion Show (Gottlieb 1962)
- Fire! (Williams 1987)
- Fish Tales (Williams 1992)
- Game of Thrones LE (Stern 2015)
- Gold Wings (Gottlieb 1986)
- Good Luck (Genco 1932)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Pro (Stern 2018)
- Iron Maiden Pro (Stern 2018)
- Judge Dredd (Bally 1993)
- Jurassic Park Pro (Stern 2019)
- Kiss (Bally 1979)
- Kiss LE (Stern 2015)
- Midget Hi Ball (Peo 1932)
- On Deck (Baker 1940)
- Pinball Magic (Capcom 1995)
- Playboy (Stern 2002)
- Revenge From Mars (Bally 1999)
- Robot (Zaccaria 1985)
- Rollercoaster Tycoon (Stern 2002)
- Screwy (Bally 1932)
- Sinbad (Gottlieb 1978)
- Singapore (United 1947)
- Spin Out (Gottlieb 1975)
- Star Trek Premium (Stern 2013)
- Star Wars LE (Stern 2017)
- Student Prince (Williams 1968)
- Swords of Fury (Williams 1988)
- The Simpsons (Data East 1990)
- Top Score (Gottlieb 1975)
- Total Nuclear Annihilation (Spooky 2017)
- Tropicana (United 1948)
- Twilight Zone (Bally 1993)
- WWE Wrestlemania (Stern 2015)
- X Force (Technoplay 1987)
- X-Men Magneto (Stern 2012)

There are many more pinballs in storage and we constantly rotate the line up of playable machines.

Other Arcade Games:

- Ghosts n Goblins
- Rampart
- Super Chexx Soccer
- Hot Shots (Mechanical Basketball Game)
- Raiden II
- Skill Tester (Claw Machine)
- Snow Brothers
- Street Fighter Alpha Zero 2
- 60 in 1 Arcade Classics (Space Invaders, Pacman, Galaxian, Galaga, Pengo, etc)
- Bouncy Ball Redemption Pinball
- Sports Blaster Bouncy Ball & Capsule Redemption Pinball


Meet the Oasis: The family run motel home to Australia's only pinball museum
By Elizabeth Flux |

There's a nostalgic charm to the Oasis Motel, even before you learn its biggest secret. Located just off the Western Highway, almost exactly halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide in the town of Nhill, it's the feeling of a road trip distilled into a single place.

Its handful of rooms are arranged in a U-shape around a well-worn, sun-dappled car park with a scrubby tree as its centrepiece and a dinosaur statue just by the reception entrance. As a motel, it's functional and unglamorous - but the rooms are not why most people make the trek here. Across the car park, in what used to be the motel's business centre, is the only pinball museum in Australia.

Lyndon Carter's family has owned the motel for more than 15 years - and seven years ago he set up the museum.

"It's something different," he says with a laugh, while walking through the dazzling labyrinth of blinking lights and colourful machines.

There are about 50 on display, tracking the history of the game from the 1930s through to the modern day. The story of pinball is laid out clearly - you see it move from the flipperless 1931 Baffle Ball through to the classic kind of game you might find tucked away in the corner of a pub. You can focus on aesthetics or on tech, tracking the switch from electromechanical machines to digital. Or you can learn by doing, and play your way through - only a few of the very old machines are off limits. "It's an interactive museum," he says. "They're built for fun and to be enjoyed - and so you've got to enjoy them and play them and keep them working."

Carter grew up with pinball. "My family was in the business in the '80s and '90s," he explains. "Putting them out on location, in fish and chip shops, that type of thing." For him, arcade games were just part of the furniture - sometimes quite literally. "We always had a tabletop Asteroids as a coffee table. That's just normal house decoration," he says with a small smile.

After winding up the business, the machines sat in storage for about 20 years until the museum offered them a second life. Since then, Carter has been growing the collection - he doesn't know exactly how many machines they have in total but "it's definitely in the triple digits".

He and his father Simon run both the motel and the museum, usually working week on and week off. Each morning, after setting up breakfast and getting a start on cleaning up the rooms, Carter heads across the car park and opens up the museum for the day. When not in Nhill he returns to work on the family farm in South Australia, while also tinkering and repairing pinballs in the garage. On average, he has eight machines on the go at any one time.

Each pinball has its own story and theme - there are missions you can complete and different rewards or challenges based on what the underlying game is. For example, there's Apollo 13 - the only pinball in the world with a 13-ball multiball. That means that if you complete a very specific mission - spelling out the word blastoff - the machine will suddenly erupt in an overwhelming cascade of noise and silver balls. It's a unique, chaotic joy.

It's difficult for Carter to pick out specific pinballs to highlight, as each is unique. One recent addition, however, is Nip It, the same game played by The Fonz in the TV show Happy Days.

Another machine he's keen to show off is Darts, which was made in 1960 and marked a turning point in pinball aesthetics.

"This is what they saw as the future of pinball," Carter explains. It was the first machine to be made of metal - before that they were made of wood. Darts also reflects the era it was made in, featuring fins like a Cadillac and cylindrical legs like a 1960s kitchen table. As a predictor of the future of pinball, there were hits and misses. The shape of it (mostly) stuck, as did the metal, however, "sadly the fins didn't take off," Carter says, before pointing out another feature that has been lost to time - a drink and cigarette holder.

The value of an individual machine is difficult to pin down. Carter says that newly released pinballs generally cost between $12,000 and $20,000. When it comes to chasing down older machines, however, competition can be fierce between collectors.

"A lot of the old ones can go up to even more than what a brand-new one is," he says. The highest he has heard is $US200,000 ($299,000), though that was for a custom-built machine where only two were ever made. More recently, clothing brand Supreme commissioned a limited run of pinballs. "They're averaging between $US50,000 and $US80,000 on the secondhand market."

While most of the pinballs originate from the US, the museum - and Carter's larger collection - also features some Australian-made machines including The Empire Strikes Back, a Star Wars-themed pinball that was made in Newcastle in the '80s. Carter estimates that only around 350 were ever made, and now only two of those are out in public and available to play. One is in Pittsburgh, and the other is here, in front of us.

Hankin, the company that made The Empire Strikes Back, was short-lived, but recently a new Australian pinball manufacturer - Haggis Pinball - has started in Keysborough. Carter walks over to a beautifully lit blue machine - this is Fathom, one of Haggis' games. Fathom was created in 1981 by American company Bally, but Haggis purchased the rights and remade it with a modern twist, adding new game elements, colours and lighting. Here's the detail you'll likely miss if it isn't pointed out to you, however - you can play Fathom the new way, or, with the press of a button it reverts to "Classic Mode" - the original game. "It's like a history lesson in one machine."

Pinball has a small but dedicated community in Australia - on the world stage we currently only have one player in the top ranked 100, but that doesn't mean players here are any less passionate. Love of pinball isn't just about competition. The Australian Pinball Museum has a steady stream of visitors - locals often come in, and there are interstate players who visit monthly, staying in the motel and making a full weekend of it.

On the last Saturday of each month, the museum runs a tournament which players can use to contribute to their world rankings - but Carter underscores that the priority is for the events to be fun and relaxed rather than intense and serious.

This ethos is reflected in the way the museum keeps track of high scores - at the beginning of each year they are reset. This means two things - if you are a strong player and want to defend your title, you need to come back and do it again. Or if you're happy to simply make it through one round without the balls disappearing immediately, you just need to show up when they're reset and fleetingly enjoy being the best player out of a pool of one.

Carter's advice for improving as a player is suspiciously simple. You start by trying not to lose the balls and being glad simply to hit them. From there, aim to hit whatever is flashing because that's where the points are likely to be. Once you have that down, then it's time to get into the specifics - learning the missions and systematically accomplishing them.

It's only after spending a night at the motel that it starts to become apparent that the building is set up to look like a pinball, complete with flippers. Over breakfast, Carter explains why pinball, in a sea of arcade games, is so enduring and beloved.

He doesn't hesitate. "It's a whole world under glass."

Meet the Oasis: The family run motel home to Australia's only pinball museum
By Elizabeth Flux |
April 8, 2023

❊ What's On ❊

Australian Pinball Museum - Open

❊ Address ❊

 ⊜  21/22 Dimboola Rd,  Nhill 3418 View Map
 ✆ Telephone: (03) 5391 1666
21/22 Dimboola Rd, NhillVictoria(03) 5391 1666

❊ Web Links ❊

Australian Pinball Museum - Nhill

Disclaimer: Check with the venue (web links) before making plans, travelling or buying tickets.

Accessibility: Contact the venue for accessibility information.

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Australian Pinball Museum - Nhill