Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Snapshot: 1991

Christmas Day is tomorrow and I thought I'd share with you how Sydney marked the big day 25 years ago.

Australia was coming out of recession by the end of 1991, but the impacts were still being felt. Unemployment was yet to peak and our country and the world saw some big changes.

Just one week before Christmas, Australian got itself a new prime minister - Paul Keating. He defeated Bob Hawke in a leadership ballot 56-51. After more than 8 1/2 years, Hawke became the first Prime Minister from the Labor party to be voted out by their own caucus. Keating would later reign over Australia for four years.

Below is some coverage from the major networks of the change of leadership.

If the political chaos in Canberra or the economy didn't impact on you, you might have had your travel plans thrown into disarray when Compass Airways collapsed on December 20.

And there was the end of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day itself.

You ask with a poor economy - What was on special? If you had a job, how should we spend our dollars? Below are a few advertisements that were published by Grace Bros in The Daily Telegraph Mirror in the lead up to Christmas.

The discount department stores had some of their own bargains.

 Some were happy to wait for the Boxing Day sales to snap up their Christmas gifts.

Source: O'Callaghan, L. 1991. "Shoppers Wait for The Sales". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 19:21. 

Yes, you could shop on a Sunday as shops were allowed special permission to trade on Sunday. Major retail centres in Sydney had been allowed to have their shops trade on Sunday e.g. Parramatta. Within 12 months, all retailers in Sydney would be allowed to trade on a Sunday.

It was interesting to read an article from The Sydney Morning Herald on December 24, 1991, which reported that gifts tended to be geared towards family use. The gift may have been intended for one person, but to be shared around e.g. board games or sporting equipment.

Grace Bros launched the Christmas Season with their 3rd annual pageant on November 24. I couldn't find anything from the papers relating to the pageant itself. 


Carols in the Domain was a near washout with only 4000 braving thunderstorms and rain. In fact, it nearly got called off. Master of Ceremonies was Barry Crocker and Jackie Love.


Source: Gibson, A. 1991. "Singing in The Rain: Only 4000 carolers brave it at the Domain". The Sunday Telegraph, December 22:17. 

I did manage to find a video on Youtube of Judith Durham singing that evening along with the finale.

As usual, British backpackers descended on Bondi and were treated to the perfect summer day with 15 000 present. However they did leave a big mess that lingered into Boxing Day.

Source: Skelsey, M. 1991. "Bondi Rubbished: Anger as beach left like a tip". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 27:3.

It was mentioned that those flying had some problems getting to their final destination if their airline had gone out of business. Train commuters had their issues too if they were heading north to the Central Coast and Newcastle. 

Finally, what were the specials at the Stocktake Sales that followed for those who ended up holding off on their gift buying or had any cash left?

Venture Stocktake Sale Ad December 27 1991 daily telegraph 28-29

Target Ad December 26 1991 daily telegraph 28-29  
They were going for broke... 

Source: Thorp, D. 1991. "Big shops go for broke". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 27:1 & 2. 

And the final wrap up.


I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and keep safe as you celebrate. 

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