1 9 8 8 – Current (Australia)
7,900+ x 25 minute episodes
Home and Away originally told the story of Tom and Pippa Fletcher, who moved from the city to a caravan park near the small (fictional) sleepy Australian coastal town of Summer Bay in the pilot episode.
Unable to have children of their own, Tom and Pippa were foster parents and the series set out to be harder-edged than Neighbours, exploring the reactions of the inhabitants of Summer Bay to these newcomers and issues affecting modern-day youth that Neighbours hadn’t touched.
Tom and Pippa’s first five charges were the streetwise Frank (Alex Papps), quiet and studious Steven (Adam Willits), vivacious Carly (Sharyn Hodgson), good-natured Lynn (Helen Bozich) and eight-year-old Sally (Kate Ritchie).
Other original cast members were store owners Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher) – the only character and actor who has remained on the show since the first season and became popular for his frequent use of Australian slang, especially the phrases “flamin’ galah” and “mongrel” – and Ailsa (Judy Nunn), and Summer Bay High School headmaster Donald Fisher (Norman Coburn).
Floss (Sheila Kennelly) and Neville (Frank Llloyd) added a touch of colour to Summer Bay as former show business performers who had given up life on the road to settle in the caravan park.
In a calculatedly shrewd piece of head-hunting, Channel Seven recruited Neighbours star Craig MacLachlan to play unorthodox teacher Grant Mitchell. Also on the list of dramatis personae were Dannii Minogue (sister of Kylie) and Terence Donovan (father of Jason).
Long before they became household names in Australia, Dieter Brummer (Shane), Laura Vazquez (Sarah) and Nicola Quilter (Donna) all appeared on Home and Away as extras.
In 1992, the death of Meg (Cathy Godbold) from leukaemia had viewers reaching for their hankies. A year later, Summer Bay was rocked by its second major motor vehicle tragedy (the first claimed the life of Tom Fletcher) when David (Guy Pearce) died in a car accident, leaving poor Sophie (Rebekah Elmaloglou) pregnant with his child.
Adam (Mat Stevenson) survived the car accident, only to be later involved in the biggest tragedy to hit Summer Bay thus far – the death of Bobby (Nicolle Dickson, pictured below). Adam was at the wheel of a boat when it crashed and exploded, hurling Bobby from the vessel and leaving her brain dead. Her family said a tearful goodbye, and her life support was switched off.
A Home and Away original, Nicolle chose to leave the soap after more than five years, saying: “I have to go out there and prove I can do other things apart from Bobby”. She later made a ghostly reappearance in a fridge to a hallucinating Ailsa.
A memorable collection of unhinged villains flocked to Summer Bay to wreak havoc over the years, including: stalker Eve/Zoe (Emily Perry) who shot Noah (Beau Brady) dead, killed a nurse and assumed her identity, then blew up a plane full of Bay residents; gang leader Johnny Cooper (Callan Mulvey) who bashed his brother Rocco (Ian Meadows), framed Ric (Mark Furzel) for Rocco’s murder, and stabbed Sally; Elliot (Paul Pantano) who blamed Roman (Conrad Coleby) for his brother’s death and tried to blow him up with a trip wire, before shooting Geoff with a spear gun and trying to drown Nicole by cutting off her scuba tank air supply; Gardy (Jeremy Sims) who pushed then-blind Roman off a bridge, committed a string of armed robberies, terrorised Nicole, and threatened to shoot Roman in the head during a robbery; and Reverend John Hall (Paul Tassone), who was secretly responsible for a string of attacks on hospital workers while still working at the parish.
The beach and most outdoor shots surrounding the town are filmed at Palm Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. The most recognisable feature of Palm Beach from the TV series is the Surf Club. It is the North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club at Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach.
Caravan Park scenes were shot between 2007 and 2009 at Duffys Forest at Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary. Martha’s Farm is at Windsor.
The Bayside Diner was an iconic location in the show for 11 years before Colleen burnt it down in 2000, forcing Alf and Ailsa to move to the Beachside Diner. The building used as the original diner stands at the end of Etival Street, overlooking Careel Bay at the southern end of the suburb of Palm Beach in Sydney.
Interior filming took place at Channel 7’s studios in Mobbs Lane, Epping from 1989 to 2009. Interiors are now filmed at ATN-7 studios at Redfern in Sydney.
Vanessa Downing (1)
Debra Lawrence (2)
Sally Keating (Fletcher)
Ailsa Stewart (Hogan)
Ruth ‘Roo’ Stewart