During the early 1900's, most Sydneysiders saw "Eternity"
written on their pavements by an unnamed identity. In the late
1900's, most baby boomers had met the Sydney Streamer Man on
the city's cruise ship wharves.
late 1950's to the late 1990's, Frank sold streamers on board
all the cruise ships from the QE2 to Fairstar, the fun ship.
Staying on board until the final call, before joining his growing
number of assistants already selling streamers to the visiting
friends and relatives gathered to say farewell to the passengers.
Special permission was granted by all the shipping companies
to be on board as well as local government authorities to sell
from the wharves on the day of departure. The only condition
was to clean up all the streamers after the ships had sailed
away. With the help of all the assistants, including wife and
business partner Sally, and their seven children, wharves were
usually cleared after two hours. On rainy days, four hours.
During Sydney's busy cruise season this was repeated up to three
times a day across wharves at Sydney Cove, 13 & 20 Pyrmont
& Wooloomooloo. During the later decades other wharves included
Darling Harbour & White Bay.
Manufacturing and selling streamers on Sydney wharves was started
by Sally's father, Arthur Thomas. His first successful day selling
streamers on a wharf was in 1908 when the Australian Rugby League
team left Sydney for their first tour of Great Britain. You
could say he was streaming 100 years before Netflix and would
be very proud of his great grand daughter's current achievements
in the NRLW.
Thomas business was passed down to his son Arthur and Sally.
Some time later, the business name changed to Austreamers as
Frank & Sally re-opened a defunct souvenir shop at the Sydney
Cove Passenger Terminal when ships were in port.
In the heyday
prior to 1983, friends and relatives joined passengers on board
ships before the usual early evening departure time. Many bottles
of champagne were shared as visitors celebrated with passengers
in their staterooms and cabins. It was a great atmosphere, but
it all came to an end when war broke out in the Falkland Islands.
Security measures were put in place, resulting in a passenger-only
policy on all cruise ships. Visitors continued to see off passengers
into the 1990's but numbers had declined after the introduction
of RBT (Random Breath Testing) in NSW. The Fairstar sailed out
of Sydney for the final time in 1997. Streamers were banned
at the Darling Harbour passenger terminal due to its proximity
to the Sydney Aquarium.
1990's, the Australian National Maritime Museum requested assistance
for a History of Streamers display that would be exhibited for
six months. Due to popular demand of the display (that included
an "invisible man" version of Frank with his white
coat & tie, hat and streamer bag), the display was retained
for more than ten years.
still continues today with Frank (90-something) & Sally
(80-something) supplying streamers to the Sydney Opera House,
various individual entertainers and wholesalers.
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