What did we do for entertainment in day gone by? Well for one thing before the advent of television you could look forward to the coming of a circus. Back in the 1930s there were around half a dozen circuses that travelled around the country. They would call at country towns, both large and small and at suburban locations in the larger cities. A few still do so. The circuses or carnivals were mostly family owned and operated. Remember Ashton’s, Wirth Bros, Ivan Bros and also Bullen’s circuses.

In the Hills district popular locations for the travelling circus was where Stockland’s Baulkham Hills is now located between Windsor Rd and Old Northern Rd. Castle Hill Showground was another popular spot which is still used on occasion for a travelling circus.

The circus would arrive with its caravans and menagerie of animal life. Children would wander around watching the erection of the “Big Top” or main tent. The various side show tents, marquees etc would be rolled out and a “side show” alley created. Back in the early days, many circuses offered Elephant and Camel rides (now frowned upon and no longer offered). There would be many stalls established for the kids and adults to spend a few pennies. “Try your strength and ring the bell” would be called out by a gent standing alongside a large mallet resting against a contraption where you would be encouraged to hit the base with the mallet to send up piece of metal to hit a gong at the top. There may have been a shooting gallery where you could try to “hit the ducks” and win a prize or perhaps play the clowns by dropping a ball into the mouth of a mechanical clowns head which would go from side to side in the hope that the ball would come out at the bottom into the correct channel or alley in which you may win a prize.

As well as the travelling circus there were also other travelling shows such Jimmy Sharman’s boxing troupe where testosterone laden teenagers and young men could try to take on some of the boxers in the ring. Some sideshows featured such items as the “Bearded Lady”, performing dogs and monkeys. One travelling show featured what they billed as “The Irish Giant” on the placards outside the marquee it would state that he was eight foot one inch (246cm) when actually he was not over seven foot (214cm). In those days you had to take such claims with a grain of salt. Today it would be labelled as false advertising.

The clowns in the main ring in the “Big Top” would entertain the crowd with their antics whilst the ring may be being prepared for the trapeze artists or the lion tamer. Kids would be getting sticky whilst trying to eat their fairy floss.

But everything was part of the day of going to the Circus or the show.

Don’t forget to contribute your memories and also any old photographs that you would like to see published in this magazine’s “as we were” section.


You can write about childhood memories of where you may have grown up or moving into the area. Tell us about your school days. Where you worked, played or went on holidays; your first car; that first date, getting married or maybe the history of your family, group or organisation in the district. This page is about memories so tell us yours.

If you have some great memories, or perhaps you belong to a local community organisation and would like to share your organisation’s history or story with us then feel free to share your memories or experiences by writing to 17 Rose St., Baulkham Hills NSW 2153 or email to [email protected] Hawkesbury. com.au You can also share memories on any of my Facebook memories groups including Hills District Memories which you will find at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ Hills.memories/ or Hawkesbury Happenings & Memories which you will find at https://www.facebook. com/groups/Hawkesmemories/