Home and Awaya is one of most popular soap opera’s in television history, particularly in Australia and the UK.
It has been the vehicle for this starlet or that young hunk to cut their teeth in the acting business before (attempting) to move onto the bright lights of Hollywood (hello Hemsworth boys), And then there’s the perennial favourite that transcends the genre to become iconic, almost part of your own family (we love you Sally Fletcher!).
Looking back over the years, these are my top 10 Home And Away moments – the tears, fears and heartbreak of Summer Bay.
1. Meg dies in Blake’s arms (1992)
Blake Dean (played by Les Hill) brought some serious drama to Summer Bay when he arrived in Summer Bay with his sister Karen in 1990, but he didn’t truly achieve Home and Away legend status until his doomed relationship with Meg Bowman. Blake fell in love with Meg at first sight, and didn’t understand why her mother continuously warned him off a relationship. It soon became clear: Meg was dying of leukaemia. Blake and Meg spent the last weeks of her life together before she died in his arms while watching the sun rise in one of the soap opera’s most poignant scenes ever.
2. Angel gets out of her wheelchair to walk down the aisle (1992)
Shane and Angel, portrayed by Dieter Brummer and Melissa George, were the golden couple of Home and Away during the early years. Angel had given birth to her son Dylan at the age of 14, and when Shane found out he promptly proposed in what was due to be a wedding bigger than Kylie and Jason. Unfortunately, Angel was hit by Alf Stewart’s car in the lead-up to the nuptials and confined to a wheelchair… until the wedding day, when she defied the doctors to stand up and walk down the aisle in a tear-jerker moment.
3. Bobby Simpson gets her life together, promptly dies (1993)
Bobby (played by Nicolle Dickson) was the original juvenile delinquent in Summer Bay. She went through a lot in her short life, being fostered by the Fletchers and jilted by her foster-brother/husband Frank Mitchell. She even discovered that she was the illegitimate product of an affair between town curmudgeons Donald Fisher and Morag Bellingham. She had finally remarried and started settling down when a boat that she was on collided with a piece of driftwood, leaving Bobby to drown. She was one of the program’s early icons, and her untimely death shocked many loyal fans.
4. Chloe’s rapist is her therapist (1996)
Chloe Richards (played by Kristy Wright) had not been a regular character on Home and Away for long when she was raped after an end of term HSC party. The trauma of this incident had a serious impact on many residents of Summer Bay: it ended Chloe’s relationship with Curtis Reed, led to two false arrests and even caused Chloe’s father Max to shoot one of the suspects dead. The biggest shock was saved for last, however: the therapist that Chloe had formed a relationship with turned out to be her rapist. He ended up getting his leg caught in a dog trap while chasing Chloe, and being committed to a mental institution however the therapist/rapist twist has gone down in Home and Away history.
5. Gypsy Nash is kidnapped by Robert Perez (2000)
This one holds a special place in my heart: it is my first memory of Home and Away. No one really liked upstart Gypsy Nash when she moved to Summer Bay with her family, however her kidnapping by tutor Robert Perez sent shockwaves through the sleepy coastal town. Little did viewers (or Gypsy) know that Robert Perez was really David d’Angelo, a criminal that Gypsy’s father Joel had imprisoned fifteen years ago. Cue the longest summer ever, as viewer’s waited to see whether Gypsy would live or die (she lived, much to the consternation of many viewers).
6. Kirsty marries her sister’s rapist (2004)
The second appearance of rape on this list, however this time with a disturbingly romantic angle. Kane Phillips (played by Sam Atwell) burst onto the Summer Bay scene after raping local sweetheart Dani Sutherland (Tammin Sursok). He redeemed himself slightly by rescuing her mother and sister during a boat accident, with Dani’s sister Kirsty ultimately falling in love with the reformed bad-boy. The relationship was met with firm opposition from members of the Summer Bay community, yet that didn’t deter Kirsty and Kane. The couple got married in 2004, had a child and ultimately fled town together when Kane was framed for armed robbery.
7. Tick tock: Noah dies in the Summer Bay siege (2004)
Noah Lawson (played by Beau Brady) was a Summer Bay favourite. A reformed bad boy, Noah had formed one of the program’s most popular relationships with sensitive artist Hayley Smith (Rebecca Cartwright). The couple had not been married for long when disaster struck: unstable methamphetamine addict Sarah Lewis blamed the residents of Summer Bay for her boyfriend’s death and held them all captive while she determined who was responsible. A gun shot rang out in the 2004 Olympics cliffhanger, with the program revealing several weeks later that Noah had been killed.
8. The Summer Bay Stalker (2005)
Any Home and Away fan remembers the traumatic period in 2005 when a stalker ran riot in Summer Bay. No one knew what the motive could be, as the sadistic troublemaker mounted their campaign of terror. The Summer Bay Stalker started bushfires, planted bombs, caused plane crashes and switched paternity test results. Ultimately the villain was revealed as sweetheart nurse Zoe McCallister, also known as Eve Jacobson. Eve was the lover of Sarah Lewis (see: point 7) and had come to get revenge against the people responsible for her death. The Summer Bay Stalker was eventually caught, however she returned a year later to wreak more havoc and (seemingly) kill local copper Peter Baker.
9. Sally is stabbed (2006)
Yet another cliffhanger that had us coming back for more. Kate Ritchie’s Sally Fletcher was seen as a natural successor to her foster mother Pippa, taking in children without anywhere to go and raising them as her own. That is what she tried to do with troubled youngster Rocco Cooper, who had been led astray by brother Johnny Cooper’s gang. Her efforts were in vain: Johnny pressured Rocco into stabbing the Summer Bay High School principal and leaving her for dead in the 2006 season finale. Sally survived, and both Rocco and Johnny were killed in the following year.
10. The River Boys arrive in Summer Bay (2011)
Any list of Home and Away’s most important moments would have to mention the introduction of the River Boys, the soap opera equivalent of a notorious surf gang the Bra Boys. Since their arrival in Summer Bay two years ago, the River Boys have been involved in everything from drug dealing to murder. The star-crossed relationship between chief gang member Darryl ‘Brax’ Braxton (portrayed by Steve Peacocke) even managed to get Summer Bay police officer Charlie Buckton (Esther Anderson) shot to death on her own doorstep. Love them or hate them, the Braxton brothers have made an impact on Summer Bay that few others ever have.
What’s your favourite Home and Away moment? Share yours below.