Flashback to decades of Canberra's New Year's celebrations

Flashback to decades of Canberra's New Year's celebrations

Apparently, retro is in. Polaroids are popular, vintage clothing is back, and even parents returned to their own childhoods when buying Christmas gifts this season.

This is why the RUC Turner Bowling Club is going back in time to celebrate the New Year, a spokeswoman for the event-organising company, Retro Requests, said.

"Retro has always been a big thing and is particularly making a comeback at the moment," she said.

"A lot of people enjoy dusting off their shoulder pads and getting out their bell-bottoms or whatever guilty pleasure pleases them from the past decades."

If you'd rather skip the wardrobe-hunting and simply browse some photos for your blast to the past, we've dug up some amusing moments from the capital's past New Year's celebrations.

While the fashion, surroundings and entertainment have evolved, it seems some things (such as costumes, champagne and partying) never change.


Who knows, you might even spot a familiar face...


Puppeteer Shelley McDonald was part of the New Year's Eve entertainment at Civic square in 1983 - a year before she established the Skylark Theatre Company in Canberra with Marie-Martine Ferrari.

The National Library of Australia's archive reports the company "gained national and international recognition for its innovative presentation of puppetry and visual-based theatre". Two films were produced by the Company in collaboration with Film Australia.


Circus Maximus performers checked the weather conditions for New Year's celebrations and Canberra's very own theme park, Canberry Fair.

The brainchild of local restaurateur Alby Sedaitis, Canberry Fair was part historical village, part zoo, part theatre and part dining precinct.

When it opened, the $3.4million, 9ha fair was Canberra's biggest private-enterprise tourist and entertainment project. But within two years, Sedaitis was broke and exhausted. And within 10 years, the site would be all but abandoned.


David Bray (left) and Ted Lam, both of Duffy, decided it was time for Ann Hatch to enjoy a New Year's splash.

It was likely a rather refreshing dip, as a Weatherzone meteorologist dug through records and found the mercury hit 34 degrees that day. That's just one degree hotter than the forecast maximum temperature for Thursday in the ACT.


Surrounded by police on the beat was not the most romantic scene for a New Year's kiss, but this couple didn't appear fazed.

They were likely unaware that 20 years later this photo would spark our exploration into the origin of the New Year's Kiss... which supposedly dates back to the Ancient Romans kissing each other at parties.

The English and Germans apparently spun the tradition by kissing the first person they met at midnight, and the Scots would reportedly give everyone in the room a kiss to mark the New Year.

The myth stands that a midnight kiss brings a year of happiness, and missing the moment results in a year of loneliness.


This was taken long before the days where giant 325-metre waterslides came to our city's streets, but it shows that Canberrans have long been sliding - and in style.

Decked in a tuxedo, Steven Briggs enjoyed the slip'n'slide at the Tuggeranong Vikings celebrations at Weston Park.

The park would have looked a little different back then compared with today, with its new multi-purpose gravel platform, public "boulodrome" (to play games similar to bowls), picnic shelter with barbecues and water refill station.


From left, Helen Anderson, Abbey Clemence and Shelley Dawes celebrated New Year's at the Hyatt Hotel Moulin Rouge style.


The Hyatt in Yarralumla has been holding extravagant New Year's parties since it was built in the 1920s. Lisa Charles from the Hyatt said this year they will hold two parties, one with a Latin flair and another with a seafood buffet.

"Back, many years ago, we used to have a huge party that roamed through all of the different ball rooms throughout the hotel, each with a different theme," she said. "But as the years have progressed we figured that quite a lot of people leave Canberra and numbers have dwindled, so now we have two events."

Clare Sibthorpe

Clare Sibthorpe is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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