Original cast member Kate Ritchie, with her on-screen daughter.

Reaching its 30th birthday, Home and Away enters the Australian TV record books, outlasted only by its fellow soap opera and long-standing rival, Neighbours

First airing in 1988, the show has delivered over 6,800 episodes, and seen hundreds of characters come and go. 

Summer Bay is now a household name, and has been a gateway to Hollywood for many aspiring actors. 

The sexy summer soap opera (quite fittingly), began with one man’s search for an ice cream.

The late Alan Bateman, Home and Away’s creator, was driving through New South Wales when he stopped at an ice cream shop to escape the heat. 

A conversation with the locals, about a new foster home in the area, sparked the idea. Bateman described it as being like a cartoon character, a light bulb illuminated above his head.

“I wanted to do something that really reflected the hopes, fears, challenges and ambience of young people.” We reckon he did just that, and the show still resonates with a young audience today. 

The show was cancelled within six weeks of its premiere, but the writers got more daring with their storylines, and the ratings began to rise. From there, it went from strength to strength. 

Long-standing cast members Ray Meagher and Georgie Parker.

Home and Away has cemented its place in the landscape of Australian television, with its stunning backdrops, infinite story possibilities and ever-changing cast. The show has become a rite of passage here in New Zealand too. 

The 30th anniversary storylines are rumoured to centre around Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher), the show’s longest-serving character and unofficial grandfather of Summer Bay. 

Show producer Lucy Addario hinted that some BIG plots would coincide with the milestone. “On screen we have a very special story featuring the much-loved Alf,” she says.

“Off screen, we will be enjoying cake and celebrating this incredible milestone together.” 


The soap opera returns to New Zealand screens Monday 5 February, on TVNZ 2 and OnDemand.