Blogging Nostalgia

Where Were You In The 80’s?

A while ago, Haylee from Aloada Bobbins did an awesome series of posts on 1980’s nostalgia and TV shows she watched as a kid. As another ’80s kid, I loved her posts so much that I decided to do a version of my own.

My family and I lived in Australia in the 1980’s. There was so much good stuff going on back then for us kids. My childhood memories include yummy, green, frog-shaped mint ice creams and home-made popsicles from juice; huge waterslides at Surfer’s Paradise, and smaller, pop-up style waterslides at school.

My 80’s life consisted mostly of school and playing outdoors in what seemed like an endless summer. To this day, the simple act of eating watermelon by the pool while dangling your feet in the water represents a perfect summer day to me. It all has to do with what you grow up with.

My favourite TV shows included:

  • Inspector Gadget – I can still remember the theme song – who could forget it?! My hair was similar to Penny’s so I obviously always imagined I was her
  • Maxwell Smart
  • Murder She Wrote (exciting for a kid, but not quite the same when I saw an episode as a grown-up!)
  • Transformers and He-Man (I guess they were meant for boys but I enjoyed them a lot)
  • Cartoons like The Jetsons, Astroboy, Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo (weren’t those the best!)
  • The Muppet Show and Sesame Street
  • A game show that was called It’s a Knockout (which seems pretty hilarious when you look at it now but let me tell you, it was entertaining!)
  • The Smurfs

Also loved:

  • Charmkins (they each had a unique perfume!)
  • Cabbage Patch Kids
  • Barbies
  • Monopoly and Chinese Checkers board games

A few memories that stuck:


We wore school uniforms and I was about 5 1/2 years old when I started school. Most of the time my mum packed my lunch to take with me (pineapple juice was a staple) but when she didn’t, she’d give me money to buy a sandwich from the school cafeteria.

The sandwiches were packed in brown paper bags and the whole buying process was exciting. I always had an egg salad sandwich, which was my favourite. To this day, whenever I go to London, I just have to get one of those! (In Finland, where I now live, you can’t get the right kind of soft bread to do them properly.)

My first book review was of Robinson Crusoe when I was in third grade. Our teacher gathered the class’s carefully crafted homework and without reading any of it, threw all of our book reports in the rubbish bin, while calmly looking us in the eye. I guess he had some kind of a pedagogic plan behind it, but all I remember was how much effort I’d put into that book review! Maybe he was just preparing us for later disappointments in life?

After school

I learned to swim at around the same age as I started school and many afternoons were spent splashing away in my best friend’s swimming pool. At home, we didn’t have a pool of our own, but our Scottish neighbours did. They cut a hole in the fence dividing our properties so that I could go swim in their pool anytime I liked.

As kids, we would spend lots of time outdoors and I was often at my friend’s house after school. They had this orange, fluffy rug in their living room which we’d sit on while we watched Knight Rider, after swimming and snacking had been taken care of. They had an old Apple computer on which we’d play stick figures’ Olympics or a lemonade-selling game, which I can’t quite remember the point of.

Sometimes we created a sort of obstacle course for the huge ants in my friend’s backyard and the ants would return the favour by biting us. My thumbs would be swollen but I deserved it for teasing them.

We would also feed toast to possums. Why toast? I don’t know, other than the fact that it was fun to take a slice of fresh bread to a sunny spot on the balcony in the afternoon and watch it turn into crisp toast by the evening. And when it got dark, a cute cuddly possum with huge eyes would come and eat it, unafraid of us. (By the way, these possums were different than the scary ones I’ve seen in some American blogs! Way cuter!)

There were, of course, occasional breaks in the weather: I also remember thick fogs, golf ball sized hail, and heavy rain causing a flood in our backyard, turning a small stairway into a waterfall. After rain, you’d spot huge toads by the side of the road, tragically squished by traffic.

My friend and I once watched a kangaroo through her second floor bedroom window. It was raining and the kangaroo was trying to cross the backyard but it fell into the swimming pool. Quickly, it got out of the pool by itself and jumped away over the fence across the yard, disappearing into the bush. This was the only time I saw a wild kangaroo.

Whenever my parents picked me up from my friend’s place, we’d drive past a fruit tree of some kind. I can’t remember the fruit but I vividly remember that the tree was always covered in flying foxes hanging upside down. I must’ve kept my nose glued to the car window each time.

Another friend had a cockatoo as a pet, and sitting next to the bird cage, we’d play for hours with play dough. There was also a magical kind of play dough… or maybe it was some kind of sand which changed color when you dropped it in water. It seemed very cool back then. Then there was the type which you could put in the oven and it’d become solid. Do kids these days still play with play dough?

At home

In our backyard, we had all sorts of interesting birds, insects, and plants. There was always lots to explore, it was like a miniature jungle to a kid. We’d play Uno cards outside and listen to the laugh of kookaburras. We’d see parrots fly by. We grew passionfruit vines, banana trees, pineapples (which didn’t produce any fruit), and edible rosebuds. My grandparents had boysenberry bushes.

I learned early on to love papaya (paw paw) and passionfruit, as well as beetroot which we added to pretty much every meal. A yummy breakfast classic was baked beans on toast and scrambled eggs. (I just remembered alphabet soup! Do they still make that?)

Huge caterpillars and lots of ugly critters lived in our garden; I was taught to always check my shoes before I put them on. Spider sightings were not unusual, and my grandparents had seen snake skins in their backyard. I even stepped barefoot on a snake once at school, by accident, but it was too stunned to do anything.

My parents took me and my brother to a windy little island sometimes and all I can remember is that they had hairy Chinese chickens there. I always needed to see the chickens! On the ferry ride over, we’d see swarms of jellyfish endlessly bobbing around. I knew they were stingy and was pleased to look at them safely from aboard.

On Thursdays, there was late night shopping. “Togs” (swimsuits) were entirely appropriate attire for a child to wear whilst accompanying her mother to the local supermarket on a hot day, and in the evenings, you’d see kids in the supermarket in their pajamas. Maybe they still do that over there, but here in Finland it seems a bit exotic – it would never work because of the weather! Speaking of swimsuits, I seem to remember that Gold Coast had a campaign in the 80’s, where young ladies in golden bikinis would drop coins into cars’ parking meters to encourage more Gold Coast visits.

I used to love writing stories as a child. I had a little notebook in which I’d write with a scented, multi-coloured pen. I finished some stories, but most of them were left unfinished, childhood time running out. Sometimes they were just titles and ideas – very similar to my blog, actually. I have tons of unfinished drafts and ideas for blog posts – and I doubt I’ll ever have the time to finish them all.

All this happened before I turned nine – the year we moved to Finland.

Where were you in the eighties?

The photos are from a 6-week vacation to Australia in 1999-2000. I toured the East Coast, visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay, the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, the Daintree Rainforest, Cairns, and other places I can’t remember. I also met up with relatives and my childhood best friend.

112 replies on “Where Were You In The 80’s?”

It’s so interesting to hear how different your childhood in tropical Australia was to my childhood in surburban Adelaide (in the 90s)!

I would love to hear the next chapter of your story when you moved to Finland! We will be moving there with our 7yo to be, so I would be fascinated to hear your experience 🙂

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How interesting to learn your childhood was so different! 😊 I’ll have to explore more of your blog (later, after work), I’m intrigued! So cool to meet people online with all kinds of experiences, similar yet so different. I might do a part 2 themed “Culture Shock in Finland” but I must warn you, I never got over moving here! It might not be an inspirational read…
which is why I’m holding back… 😊 Anyway, good luck and I’ll definitely be following you with interest!


I would never have guessed that you spent a good deal of time growing up in the 80’s in Australia and in my town, no less, until you mentioned ‘togs’! There aren’t called that anywhere else! I don’t really see kids wearing them in the supermarkets too often these days, but I do see them ( and adults too) in the bars, shops, and restaurants still clad in their togs/boardies! Were you a south or north side girl? I grew up in the south side, well really the Western suburbs, albeit a decade and a half earlier than you, before moving to the northern suburbs in the mid eighties. I recognized so may experiences in common, in your post, Australia didn’t experience that fast pace of change it does now. I guess trends spread faster due to the advent of the internet. What a horrid teacher you had to throw your book reviews in the bin. As a parent, I would be livid with that example of “teaching” – So loved the post that I would like to write something similar. You have inspired me to write about our history in suburban Australia. It is not as boring as it seemed to me! How funny that our paths have crossed now later in life, and we lived in the same hood all those years ago! Thanks ever so much for writing about this, SMS.

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What a nice coincidence! I knew you were Australian but I didn’t realise you were from Brisbane! So fun if I could revive some memories, I loved hearing about you having similar experiences! I really do hope you write a post about it, would love to read it!!! We lived in the suburbs of Logan City so that’s in the south, right? I went back there once as an adult and saw our old homes and my school (which looked much smaller than I remembered!) 😊 I have a lot of nostalgia for those times, probably because the country my parents whisked us away to is in many ways the exact opposite of what felt like home to me

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Yes, Logan is in the south. Today a very multicultural part of ‘Brisvegas.’I was born in Melbourne and lived there for some years, so for a long time I thought of that city as home! And like you, I went back to my first school and the road was so close to the buildings! I remember the school rooms were so far away from the road! But this is the mind of the child! I will write a post about my early years, and link back to yours so that you can find it, and thank you for the inspiration! When you talk of home, one often thinks of the prime part of one’s childhood, as opposed to adolescence, and for you- that was here! The funny thing is, if my parents told me we would be going to another country at the other end of the world when I was nine, I would have said, When do we leave? I was excited to see the rest of the world. Brisbane was like a big country town when I was 9 – 1971!

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Your comments make me smile, I’m so happy to hear your thoughts! I’d probably learn a thing or two from your post, since I don’t remember much outside of my “home-school-friend’s place” routine, and I don’t really have a sense of geography for those locations. Those formative years were huge for me, I really did identify Australia as my home and Finland has never felt like that to me. Which is why I started working in the travel industry, to be able to afford to travel abroad! 😊 I’m happy that you can see that, since it’s a big part of me and not everyone understands. As a true 3rd culture kid, I now (as an adult) feel a bit homeless/rootless since it feels silly to say my home is somewhere I haven’t been in decades… but at the same time, when I travel, I can easily feel at home anywhere, which is a good thing! I’ll be looking forward to your post eagerly!!!

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Now I have no excuse, I have to write it! Although, I have many great half finished posts sitting in my drafts folder. Time is not always my friend when it comes to blogging/motivation for writing. But I have extra reasons to finish this one. I hope you like it!

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Moving back and forth between Germany and various U.S. states. Used to play Pocket Simon and some pinball game religiously. And we’d ride in the back of someone’s pickup truck. We were always outside, roller skating, running around, riding our bikes. No uniform in school but a dress code.

Moved to Finland as an adult and really liked it. Always wondered what it looked like and how it was in the ’80s. So glad I grew up then.

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I can’t imagine growing up any other way. And I can’t thank my parents enough for that gift. The sad thing is when you can’t go back, or not for a while. But the memories are still there. Funny thing is, we will always recognize each other in real life. If there’s someone else who also grew up a lot in the room, no matter how crowded it is, you’ll find each other. Is how it’s always been for me.

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So true. I feel like a piece of me is missing, when I’m away from a country that was home to me. But if I went there now, it wouldn’t be my home anymore, that moment in time only exists in my memories now. But I wouldn’t have it any other way! And there are so many more positives than negatives to it 😊 And finding kindred spirits is the best! Also why I drifted into working in the travel industry since many of my colleagues have such mixed backgrounds ☺️

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So true about the missing it but it not being your home anymore. Although, in a way it still is. Because it once was. But you have to rebuild everything all over again. I’m kind of doing that right now, even though I didn’t grow up here. Wouldn’t have it any other way either.

Finding kindred spirits is the absolute best. And we always manage to find each other! 😉

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A lovely story. One I can relate to perfectly. I also learned to swim almost before I could walk… 😉 Figure of speech. And I also experienced the weather shock moving from Africa around 10-11 to Holland! (Thermic shock!) Fortunately we then moved back to Africa (Kenya) for a few years. One sort of compensated the other.

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Oh, that’s awesome! Was he a pilot? Sadly, most airline jobs have drifted abroad (without taking us employees with them)… for economical reasons. So I’m not working for an airline right now – but I do hope I will be one day again in the future. Back when I started out, the ID benefits were still excellent, but now everything has changed and there are less perks. But at least it’s still interesting! You meet like-minded people and get to practice your languages, so that’s always great 🙂 And I did do my fair share of traveling thru my different jobs (I worked for 4 airlines altogether – not at once, hahah) so I definitely got my run for the money! A job to cure wanderlust, yes. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

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Ha ha! I just left a comment on another post and it was about living in Queensland and then I read this post and saw that you grew up where I am currently living. The meter maids are still in Surfers, we don’t go there much as I’m not a huge fan of the place and at the moment everyone is gearing up for the Commonwealth Games.
I was in high School during most of the 80s and remember having lots of plastic bangles, big earrings and padded shoulders. Perfect Match, Home and Away and Countdown were among my favourite tv shows and my best friends and I loved Michael Jackson, Wham, Culture Club and anything we could dance to at a Blue Light Disco. Given our fashion sense I am glad that we didn’t have smart phones. I spent weekends working on my tan with friends at the local swimming pool, until we had boyfriends with cars and then we would all head to the beach. If I wasn’t doing that then I was usually riding horses and swimming in the creek that ran behind our property. It was a fun way to grow up although there are moments when I wondered how we survived, adult supervision was minimal and we didn’t have all the rules and regulations that exist now to keep us all safe.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane, I enjoyed it.

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Your teens sound much like my Aussie friend’s who I kept touch with after moving, even though it was the 90’s. Fashion and music changes but the lifestyle remains. In retrospect, 80’s was fashion-wise such a fun period with so much feeling and color – luckily I was too young for fashion though or I would cringe too looking a old pics! 😊 Fashion over here nowadays is very blah… Anyway, thanks for nostalgizing with me! 🤗

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“I used to love writing stories as a child. I had a little notebook in which I’d write with a scented, multi-coloured pen. I finished some stories, but most of them were left unfinished, childhood time running out.” I used to do this too. A s soon as I learnt to write, my head filled up with stories to tell. But my mother always read them to correct my spelling mistakes. The whole creative process got killed for the sake of grammar…
I loved your post.

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Your blog is truly amazing. I take pleasure in reading any of your posts. I wish I could write like you do because you manage to get a reaction from your readers. Your prose is rich!

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That is one of the nicest compliments I have received about my blog, thank you so much for your kind words!! It means a lot to me because writing is important to me. I think I receive a lot of comments because I like to comment chat and regulars know they will get a response from me (not just “check airbnb”, hehee…) 🙂


You are definitely a star at interaction! One of the best exchanges I’ve had since starting this blog. But the way you write, the way you deal with subjects stimulate the urge to comment. Keep on with the VERY good work 😉

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