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 Cracker Night, 60 years ago
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 10:35:16 PM on 22 May 2019.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6010

Cracker Night celebrating Empire Day is often recalled with fondness by those of us who experienced it. However, it was not all fun and games for the authorities as this SMH Archive story from 1959 shows:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/from-the-archives-sydney-cracker-night-chaos-closes-airport-20190517-p51oiu.html

[Empire Day. The celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday on May 24 was renamed Empire Day in 1903 after her death in 1901. It was celebrated throughout the British Empire culminating in fireworks and bonfires in the evening. The last cracker night in NSW was on June 7, 1986, after the State government banned it for safety reasons.]


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 2:51:34 PM on 23 May 2019.
Vintage Pete's avatar
 Location: Albury, NSW
 Member since 1 May 2016
 Member #: 1919
 Postcount: 1993

Hmmm , As you know I still have my Crackers !! When I was about 2o I went out for a drink with a group of people at Manly and there was a guy there about my age with a Patch over one eye that was missing and during the nights outings he told us it was from a fire cracker and that his mum and Dad were one of the main forces behind getting crackers banned ... He was a nice fellow and I must admit I did feel abit sorry for him loosing an eye as he was only about 20 when I met him .... My brothers were 10 years older than me grew up with Air Rifles and I had one too as a Kid in the country , We use to shoot tin cans infront of a Mattress and then dig the slugs back out of the mattress to re use them .... Diffrent world !!!! now Have a "ice" day.. its everywhere !!. Pete


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 4:39:50 AM on 24 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6347

My mates and I kept a biscuit tin of the palm tree crackers for about five years after that to make bungers with when we were going through the scallywag stage of our lives. One night the police were hot on our tails for putting the bungers in letterboxes. We were lucky that the police were a lazy bunch back then, they wouldn't get out of their cars and actually look for us. We were hiding in the canal on Cooks River at South Strathfield.

A lot of kids who didn't know what they were doing did take things too far and lose eyes and ears, etc - thus the reason for the eventual ban. I remember cracker night as being the night we could barely breathe by about 9PM, with all the smoke that filled the air.

Good times, good memories. It was one of many nights that brought families together that was taken away by a panic-stricken socialist government that we had at the time, instead of just fining parents who let kids who didn't know what they were doing do whatever they liked.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 7:26:10 AM on 24 May 2019.
Robbbert's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 18 September 2015
 Member #: 1801
 Postcount: 1378

Yeah we had cracker night as kids too. Blowing up letterboxes with thunderbungers was fun, although I never actually got a letterbox to explode. Then there were the little red bungers that sadistic kids would stick up cats' arses. Also sky rockets, throw-me-downs, catherine wheels, and plenty of other goodies.

But it all came to a sudden end from those who try to control us.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 5 · Written at 9:14:27 AM on 24 May 2019.
Irext's avatar
 Location: Werribee South, VIC
 Member since 30 September 2016
 Member #: 1981
 Postcount: 399

Many fun filled hours blowing things up.
Still to this day if I smell gunpowder it takes me back to childhood days.
No letter box was safe.
I remember blowing up a neighbours Tip Top loaf with a penny bunger.
Bread used to be delivered and left on the front porch along with milk in those days.
I've still got all ten fingers amazingly.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 6 · Written at 10:41:18 AM on 24 May 2019.
MonochromeTV's avatar
 Location: Melbourne, VIC
 Member since 20 September 2011
 Member #: 1009
 Postcount: 1130

I was fairly young when they banned crackers, but still old enough to have experienced it.

We used to fill a large Milo can with snails & chuck in a lit penny bunger!!

And the Roman Candle & rocket fights in the alleyway with the neighbourhood kids.

I survived it all.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 7 · Written at 12:47:43 PM on 24 May 2019.
STC830's Gravatar
 Location: NSW
 Member since 10 June 2010
 Member #: 681
 Postcount: 940

The order of size of bungers as I remember it was

tom thumb - about an inch long, eighth inch diameter and usually came in strings: terrorising pets, chooks, the other gender etc. If held by the very end could be let off in the fingers

name escapes me - about 2 inches long, quarter inch diameter: general purpose mayhem

penny bunger - about two and a half inches long, half inch diameter: general purpose mayhem

threepenny bunger - about 3 inches long, 1 inch diameter: letter box work and other projects

Seeing as weekly pocket money was two shillings (24 pence), threepenny bungers were "thoughtfully" used. Since the two shillings was received in part for feeding the chooks and pets, there was no justice for them.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 8 · Written at 12:53:19 PM on 24 May 2019.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6347

I almost forgot - one other thing I remember were the crackers that whistled and got all the dogs howling.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 9 · Written at 2:31:39 PM on 24 May 2019.
Relayautomatic's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 24 April 2012
 Member #: 1136
 Postcount: 122

STC830 - "name escapes me - about 2 inches long, quarter inch diameter: general purpose mayhem"

I think they were known as 'Double Happy'. These also came in strips of 12 with the wicks woven together. I used to separate them to set off individually. As we lived near a beach in a Defence restricted area the group of kids I was with would go down there to build and explosively demolish sand castles. Loads of fun but no damage done to the neighbourhood. Our fathers all being soldiers had taught us how to use crackers safely.

Also I recall that a number of Army units in Sydney had each selected an orphanage or similar children's home and the soldiers would all contribute a few bob to a fund that would buy a job lot of fireworks. On the big night a team would put on a fireworks display at each home and every kid would get to play (under supervision) with a couple of sparklers each. It was not unknown for the odd thunder-flash (hand grenade simulator) and flare pistol to be used too. None of this would be allowed these days.

The cracker that Brad remembered was I think a 'Flower Pot' which initially whistled as it sprayed sparks and then exploded when the central part had burnt down.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 10 · Written at 6:59:37 PM on 24 May 2019.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6010

I recall red ones about 2 inches long as penny bungers and then there were also twopenny bungers.

My old man launched our garbage can over the fence with a bunch twopenny bungers twisted together at the wick. We kids thought it was hilarious but the neighbour at the time wasn't amused.

Sky rockets launched from milk bottles: Light the blue touch paper and retire quickly.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 11 · Written at 7:23:49 AM on 25 May 2019.
STC830's Gravatar
 Location: NSW
 Member since 10 June 2010
 Member #: 681
 Postcount: 940

"I recall red ones about 2 inches long as penny bungers and then there were also twopenny bungers. "

Could be right, am going on 60 odd years ago memory.

Our favourite trick was to find two tin cans one of which was a close fit in the other, bury the larger in the dirt, and drop the smaller in with my penny bunger. The tin would generally shoot straight up to a great height, and land back in the back yard. But when one shot off at an angle over the house and into the street we were banned.

Terrorising chooks etc generally resulted in confiscation till until bonfire night.

Local bonfires were in our next door neighbour's yard with a huge vegetable garden. With contributions from all the kids around around he had a nice pile of ashes to rake in for potash.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 12 · Written at 8:00:38 AM on 25 May 2019.
Steve's Gravatar
 Location: Donald, VIC
 Member since 7 January 2006
 Member #: 13
 Postcount: 260

Cracker night I recall an event in 1982 in Rozelle Sydney there was altercation over goods between a customer and an old Jew whom ran a Pawn shop, the customer was claiming he was robbed. The shop was located near the Gary Owen hotel. Somebody a few nights later bunched together 6 of the giant tuppenny bungers and shoved them in the shop letter box.

Result being the letter box and small section of the front fascia was blown to pieces,It was a story in the local rag about the event. Amazingly after this event, there were never again any reports of anybody being robbed by that Pawn shop.

The story in the paper was titled ''Cracker Night Sends A Message'' lol lol lol looking back I thought it was a scream'' Karma didn't get him, the tuppenny bungers did the job instead.


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Steve.

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 13 · Written at 8:55:21 AM on 25 May 2019.
Vintage Pete's avatar
 Location: Albury, NSW
 Member since 1 May 2016
 Member #: 1919
 Postcount: 1993

No Crackers were involved , But when I was 4 years old , I burnt Dads car to the ground , I was playing in the car in the yard with the boy next door and the car was a Austin and my dad was a smoker , The car was full of Matches and old tins of paint . We took a lid off the paint tin and there was some paint still left in the tin and so we though in matches ,,,Hmm well the paint caught fire and I tried to put the lid back on and in doing so the paint got on the old leather seats and before we knew it ,, The head linning was on fire . We jumped out of the car and hid in the long grass in the yard and my dad thought we were still in the car and he was trying to get us out ,,, Gosh what memory ! Anyway we came out of hidding and the fire Engines turned up and flooded the back yard to put the fire out ... The old man was not angry at all ! But god I must of giving a terrible fright ..... I often think about it ... Pete


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 14 · Written at 10:24:40 AM on 25 May 2019.
Irext's avatar
 Location: Werribee South, VIC
 Member since 30 September 2016
 Member #: 1981
 Postcount: 399

Those thripenny bungers were nothing short of a small stick of dynamite!
When buried in the ground they would leave a crater about a foot in diameter.
A letter box didn't stand a chance.


 
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