Since we first welcomed Home And Away into our living rooms, the anything-but- sleepy seaside hamlet of Summer Bay has been the place where everything happens.
Over the past three decades, we’ve been enthralled by an endless procession of tumultuous love triangles, surprise-twist weddings, shock pregnancies, tragic moments and, of course, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat disasters – from devastating fires to floods, plane crashes and even serial murderers.
As the show’s only original remaining cast member Ray Meagher (Alf Stewart) wryly says: ‘It’s been a very, very tough place to live over the years – not too many towns have suffered as much!’
In Tuesday night’s special, the show’s past and present stars give their take on some of Home And Away’s most memorable moments.
1993 - Bobby's death
It was the joy ride that ended in disaster for one of Summer Bay’s favourites. Fans were left reeling when Bobby (Nicolle Dickson) was killed in a shocking speedboat accident.
‘There was a fake body that kind of flew out of the speedboat,’ reveals Nicolle. ‘It was like a big bang, and then you can’t come back,’ she says, before adding: ‘Oh yes – you can!’ For, as long-time viewers will recall,
Bobby later made a ghostly return to the Bay before a hallucinating Ailsa.
1995 - Angel and Shane's wedding
Getting hitched is rarely smooth in Summer Bay, but the nuptials of Angel (Melissa George) and Shane (Dieter Brummer) was unforgettable. Paralysed when she was hit by Alf’s car, Angel arrived at the church in a wheelchair, only to miraculously rise and shakily walk down the aisle.
‘I remember the beautiful vintage dress I was wearing,’ recalls Melissa in the TV special.
‘It was like a cape!’
2000 - Ailsa's death
What began as an ordinary day at the diner ended with Alf’s beloved wife Ailsa collapsing to the ground as she surrendered to a fatal heart attack.
According to Ailsa actress Judy Nunn, who is now a bestselling author, this wasn’t quite the manner in which she had envisaged her alter-ego meeting her maker.
She reveals she would have relished ‘a glorious death scene, of course! Something a little bit more befitting than clutching your chest with some fake perspiration on your brow and smashing to the floor amongst the cutlery. It wasn’t very dignified!’
2001 - Leah and Vinnie's wedding
It was the Greek orthodox-Scottish wedding to top them all – the fabulously spectacular nuptials of Leah (Ada Nicodemou) and Vinnie (Ryan Kwanten). And despite endless attempts by interfering family members to derail the big day, the ceremony miraculously went according to plan.
Except for one minor thing, reveals Ada: ‘I couldn’t fit down the aisle! My dress was so big that I had to keep turning – it was hilarious!’
2004 - The serial killer
In a storyline that kept us guessing for months, Summer Bay’s serial killer turned out to be Sarah Lewis (Luisa Hastings Edge). Breaking out of the psychiatric hospital, she returned to the Bay and held some residents hostage at Leah’s house.
Tragically, Noah (Beau Brady) was killed in the siege before Sarah turned the gun on herself.
Current star Sam Frost (Jasmine) says: ‘You always remember the deaths!’
2005 - The plane crash
Just as an engagement party was getting underway in the Bay, tragedy struck. Several of the locals were left fighting for their lives after their chartered sea plane crashed in nearby scrubland. Robbie (Jason Smith), Tasha (Isabel Lucas), Hayley (Bec Hewitt), Leah and Kim (Chris Hemsworth) were among those on board the doomed plane, which we later learned had been sabotaged.
2008 - Sally's farewell
We all reached for the tissues when Summer Bay’s first daughter Sally (Kate Ritchie) said her final emotion-charged goodbye to Alf on the beach, before she and her daughter Pippa left the Bay. And we weren’t the only ones, with the actors also shedding real tears.
As Kate says in the special: ‘I can tell you wholeheartedly that those scenes... were Kate and Ray.’
2011 - The arrival of the River Boys
When buff surfie gang the River Boys first crashed their way into the Bay, led by Brax (Steve Peacocke), Heath (Dan Ewing) and Casey (Lincoln Younes), they wasted no time shaking things up. And fans loved every moment.
For Steve, the role that forever saw him shirtless on the beach was memorable for many reasons. ‘My brothers used to joke that Brax’s wardrobe was just empty coat hangers,’ he laughs.
For more of the best Home And Away exclusives, see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.