IN THE BEGINNING – Tasmania, 1950s

One of the first articles I  sold, many years ago, was about the Ulverstone Agricultural Show. It was the annual  highlight of my childhood. My father was on the show committee, so thankfully we attended  rain, hail or shine. In good weather  my sister and I  wore our Sunday School Anniversary dresses, complete with  little white shoes and handbag!

” Now don’t waste  all your money on those clowns!”   we were told.   Of course we did just that, lured by the spruiker’s chant,   ‘EVERY CHILD WINS A PRIZE!’  My favourite  was a  plastic rose brooch  which squirted  water at  unsuspecting  sniffers.  The ‘proper’ prizes were dreadful ornaments,  made  of Plaster of Paris I suspect.  Our dressing table was littered with them  for years. Oh dear, the memories are so poignant my heart hurts.

Sideshow Alley Clowns... with an unquenchable appetite for our money.

Sideshow Alley Clowns… with an unquenchable appetite for my  money.

Around five o’clock  my dairy farmer Dad would round us up and utter the dreaded words, ” Time to go home and milk the cows; you’ve had a big day.”  And so we had.


Last year, after a gap of about ten years, Rob and I went to   famous Sydney Royal  Easter Show. We set off very early to avoid the crowds. Sure enough, the train out to Olympic Park was empty. Sadly,  this was because everyone had got there before us!!   For heaven’s sake…did they sleep outside the gates?



Our first port of call was the District Exhibits They are creative  displays assembled entirely from regional farm produce; grains, seeds, wool, fruits and vegetables. This year the multiple prize winner was Northern Districts. Their  design represented times of plenty, but also  the challenges faced by  Australian farmers, including  flood, fire and drought.


Easter Show 028

Easter Show 029






We were unexpectedly delayed by the arrival of  Prince William and Kate, but it was exciting to see them close up.


2014 was a VERY royal Easter show.

2014 was a VERY royal Easter show.


Of course the show is primarily about livestock;

Maternal Contentment

Maternal Contentment


It gets tiring standing up with a full udder!

It gets tiring standing up with a full udder Dolly!








Preparing for judging takes time, and dedication. But the winning of  ribbon makes it all worth while. I loved this proud little girl, and I hope she won her event.


A serious business!

Competing is a serious business!



Competitive  wood chopping, especially  tree felling, is  hugely popular at the Easter show. Although I left my home state nearly forty years ago,  I still support the Tasmanians over the New South Welshmen. This is because my maternal uncles once competed in the sport.  Also, more than 20 years ago we watched my Aunt Leah’s  wood supplier  Matthew  Gurr,  from the Tasmanian town of Deloraine,  win the world championship in tree felling. He has won a total of sixteen times.   I was amazed when he appeared in  this year’s line-up of twelve finalists, along with his 17 year old son Daniel, who weighs in at just 58 kilos. Veteran  Matthew placed a creditable 3rd, and Daniel was hailed as a future  world champion.

Tree felling final at the Easter Show,

Tree felling final at the Easter Show



I still love Dagwood Dogs!

I still love Dagwood Dogs!

How sad I feel  for children whose parents take a packed lunch to the show.  Dear me, this is an occasion to throw caution to the wind and eat all the junk food you can manage.  Perennial favourites such as doughnuts, pies and battered hotdogs  on sticks (known as Dagwood Dogs) are now being threatened by a heavenly  newcomer….Chips on a Stick; thin slices of potato, battered and deep  fried. Fairy floss is still a sticky delight for tiny tots, and the contents of  show-bags enable  dentists to upgrade their cars and book overseas trips!

A word here about the  origins of the show-bag for my  Glasgow friend Christine.  They  began as  simple sample bags promoting Australian produce, with  miniature containers of honey and vegemite and tiny packets of rice-bubbles.  A cheap novelty toy was included, and a packet of lollies (Fruit Tingles or Life Savers).  My siblings and I were enchanted by them.  But today there are over 300 sh0w-bags to choose from, housed  in a vast pavilion. Every brand of  commercial confectionery is represented.  Others are  inspired by movie  superheroes, and can cost a small fortune.

Parents suspend the bags from the handles of pushchairs;  a risky business.  Invariably the  weight limit is exceeded, the chair flies backwards, and unrestrained  children are ejected. If a half eaten cloud  of  fairy floss lands in animal manure the situation is almost beyond redemption.

Which show-bags shall I choose?? The contents are displayed to aid selection.

Which show-bags shall I choose?? The contents are displayed to aid selection.

There is nothing quite like an Australian show. It is an amalgamation of funfair, food fair, craft show  and English  county agricultural exhibition.  The  ten day Sydney  Royal Easter Show is the biggest in Australia;  when the country comes to the city.   However, it is the little one day Ulverstone show that I remember most fondly. It  takes place  close to my mother’s birthday and I  always dreamed of  throwing a rope quoit in sideshow alley and winning her a gold watch.

You might like to compare the big Sydney show with a regional  one,  at  Bathurst.   If so, click HERE

I would  love to hear  your own memories of the show, or its  equivalent. You can leave a comment in the box below. Remember to complete the anti-spam sum before you press SUBMIT.   





  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article Pauline. Oh happy “Memories” . My favourite exhibition pavilion at the Royal Easter Show was the produce, the cats & the flowers. Then watching the Polo, the Grand Parade and the Wood chopping.
    Like you with your memories of Ulverstone Show to me nothing
    could live up to the Leeton Agricultural Show.
    I used to wear my best Sunday dress, straw hat, gloves, a white straw handbag with a big pink butterfly on it and black patent leather shoes.
    First we had to visit all the exhibitions especially to see if Mum had won first prize for her bowl of pansies which she usually did.
    Then to the show bags which were all FREE. The Commonwealth bank bag had a money box, rubber, ruler and a pencil. Then the others had tiny boxes of rice bubbles, tiny jars of vegemite, Letona jam,tomato sauce.
    Then we could go off with our friends to the side shows and the rides and the rubbish food and we would try and win all the cheap prizes.
    Mum would faithfully put all the tacky ornaments we had won up onto the mantle shelf above the fire place.
    BUT the most wonderful thing about the show for me was a doll on a stick.! A kind of cupie doll in a pink net dress.
    I wonder what ever happened to my doll?
    Leeton show sounds a lot like Ulverstone Show both wonderful.

    • Pauline

      Oh Yvonne, how could I forget the Kewpie doll on a stick?? We used to go to the animal pavilions when we had run out of money. We liked to see if our Uncle Ob had won prizes with his chooks (he used to win nearly everything) and whether Grandma had won with her rich fruit cake. Remember how exciting it was when the first horse jumps went up on the showground, and finally the ferris wheel? The sideshows were dreadfully politically incorrect…a boxing tent and various freak shows. Oh dear…I loved them though.

  2. Oh what an exciting show! I love the idea of ‘show bags’ and battered hot dogs on sticks and candy floss. The animals are, of course, interesting but it’s the food, the side shows and the show bags that fascinate me.

    • Pauline

      I agree Chris. In the old days the sideshows were really creepy. I remember one called The Quarter Man, I still don’t know if he really was or not. And young locals used to fight the show boxers and nearly get killed. I can’t believe they allowed a doughnut scoffing seven year old girl to watch!

  3. I think I must arrange a return trip to Australia – just to experience the Show. Thank you for all the numerous things you wrote about it which made me smile

    • Pauline

      Easter is a lovely time to visit Marcia…not too hot. There was so much else about the show that I couldn’t mention. You would adore it.

  4. Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you Pauline, for your support during my A-Z Challenge 🙂 xxx

    • Pauline

      It was a pleasure Vikki, I really enjoyed your stories! The nightmares have nearly ceased. lol xxx

  5. Loved reading this again, Pauline. It still made me smile and long for a show bag full of rubbish sweeties and novelties.

    • Pauline

      I think the agricultural shows are the most iconic Australian events of all Chris. Brings out the child in me.

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