Wonderful Warana: Queensland’s Own Spring Festival

Source: John Oxley Library, HPT FES 023.

In a simpler and more innocent age Brisbane had the Warana Festival, a great annual Spring extravaganza which began in 1962 and included a 2 hour parade through the city streets featuring decorated floats, marching girls, entertainers, and bands, under the blue Brisbane skies.  Warana, which is an aboriginal word for “blue skies”, endured until the early 1990s and was eventually transformed into the more sophisticated Brisbane Festival of today.

The John Oxley Library has recently received a donation of photographs which include some fabulous shots of Warana parades in Brisbane from the 1970s and 1980s.  Some of the photos are currently being digitised however here is a sneak preview to coincide with the beginning of Spring and hopefully bring back some happy Warana memories.

Warana parade 1978. Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Accession 30963/24.

Warana Parade 1978. Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Accession 30963/23.

Warana Parade 1978. Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Accession 30963/27.

Dancing during Warana, Brisbane, 1978. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Acc: 30963/18.

ABC float Warana parade 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Acc: 30963/37.

New Zealand Float during a Warana Parade, Brisbane, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Acc 30963/39.

Warana parade, Brisbane, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Acc 30963/41.

The Miss Warana Quest was launched in 1964, attracting entrants from most parts of the state, and was run as a charity event to raise money for worthy causes.

Miss Warana entrants 1977. Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Accession 30963/15.

Warana also encompassed a wide variety of activities and events including a horticultural Spring Festival; open air art display; writers’ convention; city illuminations; art exhibition; concerts; film screenings; water ski shows; and sporting events, to name but a few.

One event was the Warana canoe race on the Brisbane River.

Warana 4BK Bridge to Bridge Canoe Race on the Brisbane River, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Acc 30963/35.

The Clare Sheldon Photographs, Accession 30963, include other wonderful images from around south east Queensland including Dreamworld, the Big Pineapple, Buderim Ginger Factory, the Redland Bay Strawberry Festival, and the Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Festival.  The collection is available at the John Oxley Library and many of the photographs will eventually be available online.

Lynn Meyers – Original Materials Librarian, State Library of Queensland