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.