Monday, 31 December 2018

New Years Eve 25 Years ago: 1993

Tonight is Sydney's biggest night of the year. The city will present another spectacular midnight fireworks show which envies the world.

As an annual custom, I take a look back at how the city marked New Year's Eve 25 years ago.

Sydney's fireworks were yet to be an event envied by the world. It was more provincial.
Even the timing was provincial - 9pm. Midnight fireworks were still several years away.

1993 was the fifth straight year of the "skyshow", which was a 30-minute firework spectacular presented by Coca-Cola and 2DAY FM. It had grown quickly in popularity. Reports suggested at least 500 000 were planning to attend as in previous years. It would act as the opener to the 1994 Sydney Festival. Below is a preview from The Daily Telegraph Mirror on December 30, 1993. Syd Howard was given the task of organising the fireworks spectacular. 5000 shells and effects were to be released, just a fraction of what is predicted for 2018 ( 13 000 shells, 35 000 comets and 100 000 effects). By numbers, tonight's show is at least 20 times larger than in 1993 and it will be done in less than half the time (12 minutes).

The cost of this year's celebrations is reported to be $7 million, compared with one million dollars in 1993. Police warned those attending to be on their best behaviour. Alcohol-Free zones would keep partygoers and families safe.

Source: Gee. S. 1993. "Police in New Year Warning". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 31: 3. 

Below is an advertisement from the State Transit Authority promoting extra bus and ferry services to ferry commuters. For bus commuters, some services were diverted and/or terminated at alternative destinations. Cityrail ran extra services throughout the evening, but did not publish a newspaper advertisement.

Below is a map of road closures and vantage points for the Skyshow. Note that a midnight fireworks show occured at Darling Harbour and fireworks also were released from Sydney Tower. No mention in the press of either show.

Sourced from:
Taylor, N. 1993. "It's party time as Sydney farewells '93". The Sydney Morning Herald, December 31: 2.

Crowds were estimated in the city at around 1.5 million which would have made it the largest crowd for an event in the city since the Bicentenary celebrations in 1988. The Sydney Morning Herald reported a conservative figure of 350 000 in its January 1 edition. Articles from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph Mirror appear below.

While initial media reports generally reported little problems. In the days afterwards, the night did not flow smoothly as it may have been seen.

There was chaos on the transport network. For motorists, city streets and major thoroughfares into the city were clogged. It was reported that some had to watch the fireworks from car bonnets.  Rail services were delayed after midnight as Cityrail reported higher than usual absentee numbers. Circular Quay, Wynyard, Town Hall, and Kings Cross stations were temporarily closed due to large crowds, with people also removed from Milsons Point railway station to avoid a crowd crush.

Source: Willis, R. & Tuss, R. 1994: "New Year rail chaos". The Sun Herald, January 2: 7.

Source: Wilkins, M. 1994. "Missing trains strand revellers". The Sunday Telegraph, January 2: 2. 

Source: Olsen, S. 1994. "Our night of shame, pain: Chaos as 80 train crew go sick". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, January 3: 5. 

The Sunday Telegraph reported on January 2 (below) that city hospitals were inundated with people injured during the night's celebrations.

I do not anticipate problems this evening, as, over the years, management of the event has improved. Cars will virtually be banned from the Sydney CBD altogether and everyone will be expected to travel on public transport. Several stations including Circular Quay and Milsons Point will be closed this evening.

As for transport workers taking the night off - It's possible. I recall that last year saw a similar staffing problem with transport workers calling in "sick" en masse.

I wish you all a very safe and happy new year.

January 1 2019 - I was wrong about the night being smooth. Nature put on its own fireworks show early in the evening. Lighting strikes caused delays on the rail network which flowed into New Years Day, with buses replacing trains in parts of the city. Nine News reported that paramedics and hospitals were also stretched. 

To cap it off, organisers wished us a Happy 2018 from the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons. Apparently, it was Groundhog Day. 

Monday, 24 December 2018

Christmas Snapshot: 1993

Source: Anon. 1993. "A happy Christmas to you all". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 24: 3.

Merry Christmas to everyone on this Christmas Eve. One more sleep to go until the big day.

As with tradition, I look back at Christmas a generation ago (25 years) and reflect on how we marked the big day.

This year proved to be interesting, not just in what was found but in what happened as well.

Grace Bros decided that there would be no pageant for Christmas as it had done between 1989-1992. It had established itself on the calendar for Sydneysiders. There was an attempt to revive a Christmas Parade in 2007 but was unpopular with the public.

I remember in 1993 viewing commercials on television for the Royal Christmas Show at the Sydney Showgrounds which was organised by the Royal Agricultural Society. Rides and entertainment were all included for the price of admission. There were over 100 stalls where you could do your Christmas shopping. It would not return the following year.

Paddy's Markets returned to Haymarket on December 11, 1993. It had been a temporarily based in the former rail yards at Redfern (now Australian Technology Park) to allow for redevelopment of the site. Construction of a residential tower above the markets had been suspended due to the recession but the heritage listed building was ready to welcome back the markets. Below is a feature from The Sunday Telegraph on December 5, 1993.

What were we buying?

The Daily Telegraph Mirror published a list of the five hottest gifts for Christmas based on sales at David Jones.

  1. Mr Bucket 
  2. Sydney 2000 Olympic Polyester Tie
  3. Frank Sinatra Duets CD
  4. Woman's Tartan Boxer Shorts
  5. Santas Marching Band

Source: Anon. 1993. "Christmas countdown". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 8, 17.

Brashs had 3 CD sets on sale for $14.95 and 4 CD sets for $19.95. You could buy a Sega Mega Drive II for $269 and a Super Nintendo for $319. This year you can buy the Sega Genesis Flashback with 85 built-in games for just $149 or the Super Nintendo Mini for as little as $99 if you want to relive the days of both game systems.

There was further discounting just before Christmas of video games consoles.

With the Sega Mega Drive, participating retailers were offering a Mega Drive II for $399 with Mortal Kombat, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and a bonus two games included.

There were also plenty of big toys on sale at Brashs.

Grace Bros promoted "Australian Made" clothing from Pelaco for the men. Myer stopped selling Pelaco clothing around a decade ago.

Underwear was on special early in the month.

This was the only toy advertisement that I could find which was one from Grace Bros (The Sunday Telegraph, December 5)

I found a feature from The Daily Telegraph Mirror (December 16, 1993) which identified some of the popular toys for Christmas, 1993. It was reported yesterday in The Sun Herald that Polly Pocket is popular this year, enjoying a revival. Board games, My Little Pony and Lego are also popular as retro favourites appeal to "big kids" who relive their childhood and share it with their children.

Source: Anon. 1993. "Christmas countdown". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 16, 16.

IKEA did not want to wait for the Boxing Day sales and launched their sales in the days leading up to Christmas, commencing their sale on December 23.

BigW used extended trading hours to have hourly sales to attract customers. Below is an advertisement from The Daily Telegraph Mirror (December 23, 1993).


I managed to obtain scans of Christmas specials for Woolworths, Jewel and Food for Less. However, Coles did not publish advertisements promoting their Christmas specials.

All advertisements were published on December 22, 1993, in The Daily Telegraph Mirror. 


Food for Less


The tills were ringing

With the recession "that we had to have" over, retail sales were reported to have increased by 12 %, providing for the best sales since 1989 (the year before the recession began). Unemployment had begun to slowly fall from the 11 % peak earlier that year, but people were now feeling secure about the economy and were keen to spend.

Source: Jones, C. 1993. "Sales Jump 12pc". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 24: 3. 

Carols in The Domain

Held on December 18, thousands were treated to a spectacular rendition of Christmas Carols involving 300 performers including The Wiggles Simon Burke, Tina Arena, Rob Guest, Jeannie Little, and Barry Crocker. Jackie Love presented her fourth consecutive carols, while Barry was happy to perform after presenting the three previous carols alongside Love.

Source: Gibson, A. 1993. "Stunning night at the Domain". The Sunday Telegraph, December 19: 47.

For those unable to attend in the city, there was one at Parramatta Stadium the following evening.

Darling Harbour provided their own pageant. This was broadcast on Channel 7 on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day

It was a warm summer's day in Sydney. The Sunday Telegraph (December 26, 1993) devoted two pages to share how different people spent the day.

From yours truly, I wish you all a very merry and safe Christmas. We will return next week to look at how Sydney welcomed the new year 25 years ago.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Remember This? Stadium Australia Gold Packages (1996)

I remember the commercials back in 1996 when people were invited to purchase a limited number of Stadium Australia Gold Packages which were traded on the Australian Stock Exchange.

For $10 000, you would be guaranteed a seat at every session held in the stadium during the 2000 Olympic Games. You would not have needed to even enter the ballot for tickets, stadium membership (annual fee payable) which would entitle you to free seating at most events, priority bookings, and access to special facilities for thirty years from 1999 (when the stadium opened).

For a sports fan, this would have been the ultimate return on their investment. 

Below is an advertisement that was published in The Sydney Morning Herald on October 19, 1996, which was a huge double page spread. Sadly I don't have the page numbers for it.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Remember This? CityRail Fare Evasion advertisement (1991)

Fare evasion on Sydney trains has always been a constant problem. Below is a 1991 advertisement from Cityrail warning commuters if they cannot be bothered buying a ticket, Cityrail will give one out for you (which would be more expensive than the ticket you were meant to buy).

Even with Opal Cards, the message is still relevant in 2018. It is still fairly easy to evade, especially where a station has no ticket barriers. However, it is pleasing to note that ticket inspectors are on the trains more regularly than they were in previous years, which makes evading a fare a little harder.

Source. CityRail. 1991. "If you can't be bothered buying a ticket, we'll give you one" (Advertisement). The Sunday Telegraph, September 13: 131.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Remember This? Norm Provans Discount Stores Advertisement

The problems with our photohosting has meant that there has to be some changes in our weekly postings.

Until all posts have been checked and images are hosted, I will be scaling back to one entry per week. I will run the Remember this? series through the summer, though I will post a snapshot of how Sydney marked the Christmas and New Year period in 1993 on December 24 and 31 respectively.

This week, I share with you an advertisement dating back from 1971 for Norm Provan's Discount Stores, who were owned by rugby league immortal - Norm Provan (St George ,1951 - 1965). His advertisements would occupy the back page of The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader for a number of years.

The chain of stores was based in the St George and Sutherland Shire, though stores operated at Bankstown Square and Marrickville.

Source: Norm Provan's Discount Stores. 1971. "Huge Summer Sell-Out" (Advertisement). The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, January 13: 60.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Property Advert of the Week: George Hudson homes advertisement (1962)

George Hudson Homes were offering homes for a 460-pound deposit at Blacktown in the early 1960's. Ex-servicemen were promised special conditions and you would only have to wait two weeks to move in.

Source: George Hudson Homes. 1962. "Untitled" (advertisement). The Daily Telegraph, April 14: 39.

Monday, 26 November 2018

SERIES: The Evolution of 2 Park Street - What if...?

For two months, we have explored the evolution of 2 Park Street from its former life as a Waltons Department store into a major city building and retail complex.

But I have not answered a question that I put forward when looking at never built visions and concepts?

What would have happened had the proposal became reality? How would this have impacted the city?

1982 Scheme

  • The office space would have required a refit in the past decade to compete with existing city towers. 
  • With Waltons sold in 1987 and rebranded as Venture, the new owners may have scaled back the city store.
  • Any replacement Department store would not be trading in 2018.
  • The retail complex would have required redevelopment to reflect changing consumer retail trends. With the inability to attract a department store, mini-majors would be the anchors in the centre today, like what is there today.
  • Owners would in recent years have explored the option of a second building e.g. hotel or adding extra commercial levels above the existing podium. 
Park Tower (1986)

  • Similar outcomes with the retail complex as featured in the 1982 scheme, though the public garden would be popular with city workers. I could foresee under this scheme, possibly rooftop cafes, bars and restaurants eventually occupying the space today. 
  • Would be a fairly reputable complex for major firms. 
  • Architecturally, it would appear "dated" against other city towers. 
Skytower/Park Plaza (1987)
This scheme was never going to be approved under planning guidelines. However, I'll suggest possible impacts that the tower would have had on Sydney. 

  • International recognition for the tower due to its height. It would be associated with Sydney architecture with the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Tower. 
  • Would be the tallest skyscraper in Australia for the foreseeable future.
  • Change to flight paths for Sydney Airport. 
  • Similar outcomes to previous schemes with the retail complex - upgrades required and subdivision of the department store space into mini-majors. 
  • The tower would have most likely been completed during the recession of the early 1990s and this would have created a situation where large portions of the tower would have been without tenants. A tower of this size would have contributed to increases in office vacancy rates. 
  • Large sections of Hyde Park South would be subject to overshadowing.
  • An observation deck would have been provided given it would be around 150 metres higher than Sydney Tower.
Park Plaza (1988)
The scheme was not going to be approved. However, Ill suggest possible impacts that the tower would have had on Sydney.

Like other proposals, there would have been the need to reconfigure the retail space to accommodate changes in retailing. Like the Skytower proposal of 1987, filling the office space was going to be challenging, though not to the extent with Skytower with 22 fewer levels of office space. It may not have had the international acclaim that Skytower could have but would still be one of the most prominent buildings in Sydney and with national recognition.

Park Plaza IV (1988)

Architecturally, it may appear out of date today but given that it was 54 levels, it would have been half the struggle as with Skytower to attract tenants during the 1990's recession. As with all schemes, an upgrade or redevelopment of the retail space would have been required by now.

Park Tower


Leasing of office space would have been an initial challenge, but architecturally would have looked contemporary and imposing on the city skyline, especially around Town Hall which was in need of a real landmark tower. I look at Melbourne Central (Melbourne) and nearly three decades after completion, still maintains a contemporary look on the Melbourne skyline. The retail complex would be similar to Melbourne Central with a variety of retailers, even though it would have around 50 % less. Its appeal would probably be bigger than the Galeries that we see today.

Park Tower II (1994)

Given the similarities in the shape and form to the site today, it would have evolved in a similar fashion to the Citigroup Centre today, though the retail complex would have more than likely resembled a typical shopping centre.

This entry concludes our series on the evolution of the Citigroup Centre at 2 Park Street. I hope you have enjoyed exploring the various schemes in the 1980s and 1990s to redevelop the site of the Waltons Department Store and the dramas associated with just placing a building on the site including the infamous hole in the ground which lasted for a decade.

Previous Entries in the Series

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Property Advert of the Week: Parkes Home Units at Eastlakes (1966)

Below is a 1966 advertisement for home units at Eastlakes. These were built by Parkes Developments. The 4750 pounds would equate to $9 500. According to the RBA Inflation Calculator, the price of the units would cost approximately $122 500 in today's money.

While decimal currency had been introduced around three weeks before publication of the advertisement, prices were still advertised in pounds.

Source: Parkes Developments. 1966. "Anyone can afford a Parkes home unit" (advertisement). The Daily Telegraph, March 5: 31. 

Monday, 19 November 2018

SERIES: The Evolution of 2 Park Street - Citigroup Tower & Galeries Victoria in 2018

This week will see a drift from what is normally posted. I would like to share some photos that I have taken in recent times of The Galeries (formerly Galeries Victoria) and Citigroup Centre as I reflect on the complex today.

Over the past two months, I have posted about the drama just to build on the site which lasted nearly two decades. It took eighteen years from the release of the first proposal before the site was developed.

Coincidently, it has been eighteen years since the complex was opened to the public.

What have the past eighteen years been for the complex?

As for the tower itself, it has been popular with commercial firms attracted by premium grade office space. As of October 31, 2018, only level 8 was vacant. It's just not the quality of the office space that attracts the tenants, but also the location. It is nearly right above Town Hall railway station with direct access to the station, and easy walk to Pitt Street Mall, Hyde Park and Darling Harbour.

The Galeries Victoria has become a popular shopping centre within the Sydney CBD. It may lack the history or prestige of the Queen Victoria Building and Strand Arcade, it has shone in its ability to innovate how people shop in central Sydney.

The Sydney Arcade introduced Sydneysiders to enclosed laneway shopping, but the Galeries Victoria provided multiple laneways that connects to a square in the centre of the complex. Apart from escalators and staircases, skybridges were also constructed to link shops in each section.

In the square itself, there is a full height atrium, which allows natural light to filter in, even in the shadows of nearby towers.

2 Park Street rises over the full height atrium of The Galeries. 

With the retailing offering itself, it has also been innovative focusing on lifestyle, fashion and dining. JB Hifi opened their first CBD store in the basement level over a decade ago. Since then another four JB-Hifi stores have opened in central Sydney.

It is the only CBD shopping centre that has a furniture store - Muji. Freedom Furniture traded for a number of years as well. There are also retailers trading in the centre that you may not find elsewhere e.g. Kinkoyounya.

Finally the former Sydney Mechanical School of Arts Building (1836) is home to the popular Arthouse Hotel which opened in 2001.

I wonder what the next eighteen years will bring.

Previous Entries in the Series

Update on Photo hosting Issues

As mentioned a fortnight ago, I have had to change the photo hosting location of images featured in this blog. Since then, all posts from 2014 have been checked and all images are available again for each entry. I am now working through posts from 2015.