Celebrating 175 Years of Victoria

In 2010 the Wheeler Centre went on the road to four regional centres to celebrate Victoria’s 175th birthday. Project officer Sarah Reynolds wrote this account of the road trips, hook turns and the odd chiko roll that made these special events.

Quizmistress Jane Clifton keeps cool in Geelong

Quizmistress Jane Clifton keeps cool in Geelong

When news of the state of Victoria’s 175th birthday reached the Wheeler Centre, it seemed obvious to celebrate in style. And what better way to mark this significant occasion than with a travelling quiz roadshow?

Across the month of October the Wheeler Centre hit the four regional destinations of Sale, Ballarat, Geelong and Warrnambool. The Birthday entourage included the Wheeler Centre team, 6 panellists/contestants and the ever-radiant quizmistress, Ms Jane Clifton.

The contestants were some of Victoria’s brightest from a range of occupations: comedians; writers; journalists; radio personalities; as well as local celebrities from the four locations. The talent included luminaries Noni Hazlehurst, Dave O’Neil, Toni Jordan, David Astle and other splendid guests.

With rivalries and scheming already beginning on the journey in the Tarago, or train as was the case in Warrnambool, Miss Jane had her work cut out!

The events themselves included questions ranging from History, Entertainment/Arts, Sport and General Knowledge, so there was certainly something for everyone. But, do not be fooled, this was no ordinary quiz, which was made clear to the audience with the events beginning by singing a round of Happy Birthday for our state of Victoria!

And, of course, what birthday celebration would be complete without charades? Keeping in the spirit of the night, the theme was Victorian icons and did not disappoint. From Peter McPhee’s charade attempt at The Vault sculpture being interpreted as Zumba, to Shane Maloney being a penguin at Phillip Island to comedian Damian Callinan acting out a hook turn by sticking a microphone up his sleeve and spinning in circles.

However, the talent was not limited to those on stage with the audience from all locations jumping in and, at times, showing up the contestants.

We learnt a lot about the panellists and the birthday girl. For example, that comedian George McEncroe was related to Castlemaine boilermaker Frank McEncroe who invented the much-loved cylindrical object, the chiko roll, in 1951. The name of Warrick Capper’s first single, Vegemite, Trugo and Boomahnoomoonah all became lively topics of conversation.

So, now we are back in Melbourne planning our regional adventures for 2011. A big thank you to all involved, in particular the regional towns for welcoming us and joining in the birthday celebrations and coming to the party!

Read Toni Jordan’s pre-trip jitters before heading for Ballarat