Monday, 23 March 2015

Royal Easter Show Flashback: 1990

With the Easter Show set to start on thursday at Sydney Olympic Park, I thought I'd look back through my collection to gain an insight into what the Easter Show was like 25 years ago.

1990 was the first Easter Show I can remember going to as a five and a half year old though my parents say that they had taken me as a baby. I have not missed an Easter Show since that time. What a feat. I can also where possible add my own reflections or insights.

The 1990's would be the final decade for the show being held at Moore Park. The Greiner Government had made it clear it was being relocated to a new site at Homebush Bay (where the State Abattoirs were located). This was not going to be changed.

Originally, the showgrounds would form a redeveloped Homebush Bay which would be the site for the 1996 Olympics which Sydney had placed a bid for alongside Melbourne in 1988. Melbourne was selected by the Australian Olympic Committee as the Australian bid for the 1996 Olympic Games and would eventually lose to Atlanta.

In 1990, the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) was given approval by the State Government to build the new showgrounds at Homebush Bay to be ready for the 1994 Easter Show at a cost of $160 million. Olympics or no Olympics, it would still form apart of an international sporting complex.

A render of that proposed complex is shown below. Apart from enlarged facilities, the obvious difference between this concept and the eventual showground complex was that parking would be provided for 20 000 cars. While being close to public transport, there was still a large provision for people to drive. As we know, we waited until 1998 for our new showgrounds to become reality.

Source: Anonymous. 1990. "Homebush site now on." The Sunday Telegraph, April 1: 155.

While Sydney waited, the show went on and it was at Moore Park.

I have found the preview guides in the newspapers to be highly valuable in terms of what was happening in 1990.

Dates: April 6 to April 17 1990


It may appear to be more affordable to the average person, but remember you could purchase either a show entry ticket only or the all in one ticket like today where you pay a flat admission charge and includes public transport to and from the show on all modes. Cityrail offered Showlink Tickets which included a return rail fare to Central and bus to Moore Park, and was based on zones. The ticket prices had been the same as in 1989.

Adults: $10.50 (Showlink - From $13.00)
Children: $5 (Showlink - From $6.00)
Pensioners: $5

Family Super Saver Tickets were available for $39.50

This year, an adult will be charged $39.50 for Easter Show admission.


  • South Korea as the guest nation. Porcelain and electrical goods were on display in the International Pavilion along with a restaurant and delicacies in the Banquet Hall.
  • Moonlight Concerts featuring a roster of artists including: Johnny Diesel & The Injectors, The Angels, Julie Anthony, Athol Guy & Bruce Woodley (The Seekers) and Slim Dusty.
  • Easter Alive - Retelling the story of Christ's death and resurrection compered by Dawn Lake & Bobby Limb on Easter Sunday. 
  • 1990 Australian Showjumping Championships.
  • US Marine Corps Band based at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. 
  • The Grand Parade
A popular pavilion was the Police Pavilion. Here is an advertisement promoting their exhibition for 1990.

Source: NSW Police Service. 1990. "Come and Work the Beat With us at the Royal Easter Show (Advertisement). The Daily Telegraph, April 5: 33.

Show bags

In 2015, there are over 300 bags available. Obviously there is alot of choice today but in 1990, one still had plenty to choose from and many favourites are still with us today. Bertie Beetle was and still is $2 though you can choose from several other Bertie Beetle Bags that retail for up to $15. There are two show bag advertisements that I've included for you to get a feel of what was available.


1. Anonymous. 1990. "The Best Value Show Bags at This Year's Royal Easter Show (Advertisement)." The Daily Telegraph. April 5: 37.

2. Anonymous. 1990. "Top Value Show Bags (Advertisement)." The Daily Telegraph. April 5: 35.

The most popular show bags according to the RAS were Mars, Bubble Yum, Rowntree Hoadley Bag and the Worlds Biggest Showbag.

Key Statistics

According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald on April 18, 1990:

  • Total attendance was 856 000 (Up 67 000) on the previous year. The Sunday Telegraph reported on April 15 that 167 000 had attended the show on Good Friday, the busiest Good Friday since 1975. 
  • 1 100 children were lost
  • Approximately 145 000 buckets of hot chips were sold along with 1037 metres of hamburgers (piled up on each other) and eight kilometres of hot dogs if laid side by side.
  • The Country Womens Association sold 1000 scones per day.
  • 20 000 casuals were employed.
Source: Stapleton, J. 1990. "Visitors flood the show, despite those rainy days." The Sydney Morning Herald, April 18: 7.