Wonderful Warana: Queensland's Own Spring Festival

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.

In 2017, John Oxley Library received a donation of photographs, as part of the Clare Sheldon Photographs collection, which include some fabulous shots of Warana parades in Brisbane from the 1970s and 1980s.

Girls on a seahorse float participating in a Warana parade in Brisbane, Queensland, 1978. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0024-0001

Girls on a seahorse float participating in a Warana parade in Brisbane, Queensland, 1978. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0024-0001

King Neptune with mermaids float in a Warana procession, Brisbane, Queensland, 1978. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0027-0001

King Neptune with mermaids float in a Warana procession, Brisbane, Queensland, 1978. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0027-0001

ABC radio and television floats in a Warana parade in Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0037-0001

ABC radio and television floats in a Warana parade in Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0037-0001

Channel 9 float participating in a Warana parade, Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0038-0001

Channel 9 float participating in a Warana parade, Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0038-0001

Pelican float in a Warana parade, Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0041-0001

Pelican float in a Warana parade, Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0041-0001

Swing dancers in performing during Warana celebrations, Brisbane, Queensland, 1978. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0041-0001

Swing dancers in performing during Warana celebrations, Brisbane, Queensland, 1978. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0041-0001

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 float in front of the Treasury Buildings, Brisbane, Queensland, 1977. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0014-0001

Miss Warana float in front of the Treasury Buildings, Brisbane, Queensland, 1977. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0014-0001

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, Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0035-0001

Warana 4BK Bridge to Bridge Canoe Race on the Brisbane River, Brisbane, Queensland, 1979. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30963-0035-0001

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.  A selection of images from this collection is available to view online via our One Search catalogue.

Lynn Meyers - Original Materials Librarian, State Library of Queensland

Further Warana related collections

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Lynn thank you for this lovely post. I remember that fantastic blue poster from 1973. The effort that went into those floats is spectacular. Thanks to the donor who has brought this wonderful kaleidoscope of images to the people of QLD.

Thank you for the memories this has brought back. We always went to the Warana Procession and I can still sing the chorus of the Warana theme song. Not only were there local floats, but the TV stations imported stars from the south, which was very exciting. Warana was a great community event, and it was such a treat when you were actually on a float.

I was crowned Miss Warana 1973 and will organise photos of the parade to be sent as above . Regards JUlie Younger

Dear JulieThanks for your comment. We would love to see your pictures of the 1973 parade and of yourself being crowned. What a wonderful experience! Of course if you have any hard copy photographs which you would like to donate to the State Library we would be thrilled.Kind RegardsLynn Meyers

I am looking for anything to do with the 1979 Warana Princess Cheryle Smith who is my daughter thank you

Thanks for sharing. As a child in the 70s I got lost at Warana and was found by Jackie MacDonald. I still have some old photos of that festival, am happy to share.Michelle Pietsch

Wonderful nostalgia. The procession was always spectacular, these days we are often in awe of technology but back during Warana, the effort and time put into the festival was every bit magnificent to us, much simpler times but an awesome era to have lived through