On this day …….. 12th of October 1918

The Magic Pudding is a novel by artist and writer Norman Lindsay, who was known for his unusual and creative approach. Norman Alfred William Lindsay was born on 22 February 1879 in Creswick, Victoria, Australia. He was a skilled artist, and his paintings were controversial for their time, concentrating on nudes, often incorporating pagan themes of gods and goddesses, nymphs and satyrs, in an Australian bush setting. Much of his work, which includes watercolours, lithographs, and etchings, can be found at his former home at Faulconbridge, New South Wales, now the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum. As well as his prolific output of paintings, Lindsay was a writer who completed eleven novels between 1913 and 1950. His best known work is possibly “The Magic Pudding”, first published on 12 October 1918. “The Magic Pudding” is a children’s classic about a sarcastic and bad-tempered walking, talking pudding that can be whatever food it wants to be, and eaten without ever running out. The story was originally written by Lindsay as a means to take his mind off World War I and the tragic loss of his brother at the Somme. The storyline itself was the result of an argument between Lindsay and another writer, Bertram Stevens. Stevens was convinced that children were drawn to stories about fairies: Lindsay believed that food was the drawcard. The ultimate success of Linday’s novel would suggest that he was correct. Despite Lindsay’s own criticism of it, calling it a ‘little bundle of piffle’, “The Magic Pudding” went on to become an Australian classic, enduring for many generations beyond Lindsay’s lifetime.

 

On this day …….. 12th of October 1990

On the 12th of October 1990, the “Luna Park Site Act 1990” was gazetted by the NSW Government. The Act was intended to protect the site of the park, dedicating it for amusement and public recreation. This act made Luna Park one of only two amusement parks in the world to be protected by government legislation, the other being Denmark’s Tivoli Gardens.

 

On this day …….. 9th of October 2009

Sam the koala gained notoriety in February 2009 when she was rescued during backburning operations prior to the devastating Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009. CFA volunteer firefighter David Tree approached the koala with a bottle of water, from which the animal drank; an unusual occurrence, given that koalas rarely drink water. A mobile phone video of the event was broadcast worldwide, creating an instant celebrity in the koala. Sam was subsequently taken to the Southern Ash Wildlife Centre in Rawson where she was treated for second-degree burns. After living there happily for several months, along with a young male koala who had also been rescued from bushfires, Sam was found to be stricken with the disease chlamydia. She was euthanased on 6 August 2009 when it was discovered her condition was inoperable. Dadswells Bridge, a town with a population of around 170 near the Grampians in Victoria, is home to the Giant Koala. Standing since 1988, the Giant Koala is a well-known tourist attraction in the area. It is 14 metres high, cast primarily out of bronze and weighs approximately 12 tonnes. On Saturday 10 October 2009, the Giant Koala was officially renamed “Sam” in honour of the koala. The centre aims to raise awareness of the life-threatening disease chlamydia, while offering a tribute to the hope Sam gave amidst the horrors of the Victorian bushfires.

 

On this day …….. 8th of October 1930

Luna Park was opened in Glenelg, South Australia on 8 October 1930. The park grounds were open to the surrounding area, with admission instead charged to the individual rides and attractions. Sadly due to a dispute with the local council it closed in 1935.

 

On this day …….. 4th of October 1935

Sydney’s Luna Park opened to the public on this day in 1935. The current Luna Park Face was based on the enormous smiling faces at Luna Park, Melbourne, Australia and Steeplechase Park in the United States, Luna Park’s 9-metre-wide (30 ft) smiling face, as well as its flanking towers, have presided over the main entrance for almost all of the park’s existence. There have been eight distinct faces, installed in 1935, 1938, 1939, 1946, 1950, 1973, 1982, and 1994. The seventh Face was donated to the Powerhouse Museum in May 1994.  The eighth and current Face, completed in 1994 and carved from polyurethane, is based on Arthur Barton’s 1950 “Old King Cole” version.

 

On this day …….. 3rd of October 1935

Possible the most renowned Australian dessert is undoubtedly the pavlova, but which country did it originate from is a hot topic. Consisting of a base made of meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits such as kiwi fruit, passionfruit and strawberries. The Australian legend states that the pavlova was created by Herbert Sachse, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, on 3 October 1935. It is said to have been given the name “Pavlova” by Harry Naire from the Perth hotel, in honour of the visiting Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Naire is alleged to have stated that the built up sides of the dessert reminded him of her tutu. New Zealand may have a greater claim to the pavlova, however. Recipes for pavlova appeared in a magazine and a cookery book from 1926. What is clear is that, while the dessert may have been invented in New Zealand, it was undisputedly named in Australia.

 

On this day …….. 28th September 1973

The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, sits on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour. Designed by Danish architect Joern Utzon in 1955, it has become one of the most famous performing arts venues in the world. Utzon arrived in Sydney to oversee the project in 1957 and work commenced on the opera House in 1959. The building was completed in 1973, at a cost of $102 million, and formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973. The opening was celebrated with fireworks and a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Prior to this, however, Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘War and Peace’ was played at the Opera Theatre on 28 September 1973. The following day, the first public performance was held, with a programme performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Mackerras and with accompanying singer Birgit Nilsson.

 

On this day …….. 27th September 1956

Sandra Simpkins is a ventriloquist doll which was used by Merle Blaskett in the test transmission of GTV9 (channel 9) from Mount Dandenong, Melbourne on this day 1956, becoming the first puppet on Australian TV. Today “Sandra Simpkins” is believed to be a very rare Len Insull doll, circa 1948, as female dolls were believed to be undesirable. Merle and her husband Ron Blaskett decided to sell Sandra and subsequently remodelled her into a Male character. As a historical TV artefact the Blaskett’s tried refined the doll to no avail until it was rediscovered in 2013 and restored to the original female character by Gordon Ross in South Australia. Ron Blaskett refers to this doll as the most historical “transgender” ventriloquist doll in Australia.

 

On this day …….. 27th September 1956

GTV (channel 9) was amongst the first television stations to begin regular transmission in Australia. Test transmissions began on 27 September 1956, introduced by former 3DB radio announcer Geoff Corke, based at the Mt Dandenong transmitter, as the studios in Richmond were not yet ready. The station was officially opened on 19 January 1957. by Victorian Governor Sir Dallas Brooks from the studios in Bendigo Street, Richmond. A clip from the ceremony has featured in a number of GTV retrospectives, in which the Governor advises viewers that if they did not like the programs, they could just turn off.

 

On this day …….. 27th September 1956

Gerry Gee, was a ventriloquist Doll who was brought to life in 1956 by Ron Blaskett, for GTV9’s (channel 9) first live test broadcast from Mt Dandenong, Melbourne Victoria, on the 27th September 1956. Gerry Gee was made by Frank Marshall a wood carver in the basement of his house at 5518 S. Loomis, Chicago, USA. Ron Blaskett become aware of Marshall work though fallow ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s and his doll Charlie McCarthy. Blaskett corresponded with Marshall and he agreed to carve a special figure for £200. Gerry was imported from the US at a cost £200 and was named after the station. Ron, wife Merle Blaskett also a ventriloquist and Gerry are the only survivors of the test broadcast (2016). The comedy duo became household names as Aussie entertainer, on radio and TV, on The Tarax Show, IMT (In Melbourne Tonight) and Young Talent Time. And the act travelled the world, playing to millions at the 1975 Toronto Expo, cyclone victims in Darwin and Diggers in Vietnam. Gerry Gee and Ron Blaskett retired together after career of 56 years, Aussie TV’s first and foremost ventriloquist duo.

 

On this day …….. 16th September 1956

Although John Logie Baird first demonstrated the television in 1926, it was not until the 1940s that steps were made to bring the medium to Australia. They began with the initial Broadcasting Act of 1948, which prohibited the granting of commercial television licences. In 1950, Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced a gradual introduction of television in Australia, commencing with a launch of an ABC station. Three years later his government amended the 1948 Broadcasting Act to allow for commercial television licences. Test transmissions commenced in Sydney and Melbourne in July 1956. At 7:00pm on 16 September 1956, Australia’s first TV broadcast was made by TCN Channel 9 in Sydney. Bruce Gyngell introduced the broadcast with the words “Good evening, and welcome to television”. At the time, there were approximately 2,000 television sets in Sydney. The station was owned by Frank Packer, but it was his son Kerry who later saw and developed the potential of television as an informative media source. Packer’s TCN 9 launched approximately two months ahead of its nearest competitor, ABN 2. However, a regular broadcasting service was not provided until January of the following year, by GTV 9. GTV 9 had already been granted permission to use the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne for test transmissions, and officially opened with a regular broadcasting service on 19 January 1957.