8 February 2022

It's Moruya Mardi Gras time - town winds back the clock to celebrate Sydney Harbour Bridge 90th anniversary

| Katrina Condie
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Moruya Mardi Gras circa 1970s.

Snaps from the Moruya Mardi Gras circa 1970s. Photos: Moruya Street Parade and River Lights Festival.

The marvels and mayhem of the Moruya Mardi Gras will be revived when the town celebrates the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in March 2022.

Moruya is set to wind back the clock to the 1960s, 70s and 80s, when the town came alive with a colourful street parade, floats, marching girls, clowns and loads of frivolity, as the community celebrates its strong connection with the iconic bridge.

Event coordinator Gary Traynor says the town will put on a show to remember, with a daytime street parade from noon on Saturday 19 March, followed by the famous Riverlights Festival that night.

On Sunday 20 March, organisers hope to obtain permission from the State Government to conduct free tours of the Moruya granite quarry which supplied the rock to face the piers and pylons of the harbour bridge.

Mr Traynor said, sadly, the festival is likely to be the last major anniversary involving people with a living memory of the 1932 bridge opening.

READ ALSO Moruya Riverlights return to celebrate Sydney Harbour Bridge anniversary

Following a tough two years for the district with bushfires, floods and COVID lockdowns impacting families, local businesses and tourism, it’s hoped the celebration will bring a smile to many faces and create memories that will last a lifetime.

“Our businesses have suffered and restrictions have caused both psychological and emotional distress,” Mr Traynor said.

“The volunteer organisers strongly believe this event will be the much-needed boost the Eurobodalla needs – not to mention the benefits to this area from potential tourism.”

He said the Mardi Gras would be the biggest party that Moruya has thrown in decades and “the very best that a country region can produce”.

“The Eurobodalla will be putting it all out there, from the machinery which powered rural Australia at the turn of the century, to vintage motor vehicles impeccably restored and presented.

“Community groups and local businesses will all be on show in the biggest street parade in rural NSW since the 1980s.”

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

The 90th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be held in 2022. Photo: City of Sydney.

There will be live music, fun and festivity including games and activities for the kids, skydivers dropping in and festival-goers will be buzzed by the local seaplane.

“And, as every village has an idiot, we shall be searching for the 2022 Village Idiot as voted by our ‘Red Faces’ style talent competition, with prizes including a double pass from Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb,” Mr Traynor added.

It’s hoped the wet weather will hold off and the day’s event will proceed without a hitch – unlike the bridge opening.

“We shall be calling upon the spirit of 1932 NSW Premier Jack Lang to cut the ribbon to commence our street parade… however we hold genuine fears that his moment could be spoilt once again by the curse of Francis De Groot,” Mr Traynor said.

READ ALSO Show must go on as Eurobodalla celebrates 150 years of history

The organisers have put the call out across the country for any person with a historic name to visit Moruya over the festival weekend and enjoy a free VIP pub crawl at the town’s four pubs and two licensed clubs.

The festival Facebook group has a full list of eligible famous names from Francis De Groot, the horseman and bridge opening gatecrasher, to architect John Burnet and even Lennie Gwyther, the nine-year-old boy who rode his horse 1400 kilometres from his home in Gippsland, Victoria to Sydney for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The VIP list also includes the names of 16 men who were tragically killed during the bridge construction.

The Moruya Mardi Gras is a part of local folklore and community groups are being encouraged to get involved by submitting a float for the parade or creating an entry for the Riverlights Festival on the Moruya River.

“Come up with your own original idea or re-create a ‘blast from the past’ and replicate one of the creations from days gone by,” Mr Traynor said.

The organisers would also like to hear from local musicians, bands and food vendors.

To get involved, contact Volunteer Event Coordinator Gary Traynor on 044 969 2401 or join the event’s Facebook group.

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