Encyclopedia Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes)

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What, No Wolves Sabrina?

The Australian Women's Weekly
28 January 1959 (page 8)

From the inside front cover:

British television star Sabrina cuddles a koala to make her "Cuddle a Koala" song come true during a day's outing we arranged at the Sir Colin McKenzie Sanctuary, at Healesville, Victoria. Our cover and the pictures on pages 8 and 9 are by staff photographer Laurie Kimber.

Sabrina Healesville 1959




Far away in foggy London a woman who has never been to Australia dreamed up a wishful sunny day in the bush Down Under and made it into a song especially for lush blonde Sabrina.

THE imaginative Englishwoman is Irene Devereaux, wife of Australian actor Eddy Devereaux, who produces acts for TV shows and is responsible for Sabrina's repertoire of songs on her Australian Tivoli Theatre tour.

"Cuddle a Koala" is the name of the wishful bush song, which has the curvaceous visitor declaiming:

I wanna cuddle a koala at Taronga Zoo,

Sabrina Koala Healesville 1959

Pat a platypus and kiss a kangaroo.

Sabrina Platypus Healesville 1959

I wanna throw a boomerang from here to Woolloomooloo,
That's what 1 wanna do.

I wanna wander through the bush and make some billy tea,

Sabrina Billy tea Healesville 1959

Listen to a kookaburra laughing at me.
Chewing on a leaf from a eucalyptus tree;
That's where I wanna be.

I wanna ride the surf, feel the spray,
Meet my cobber, say "Good-day, how're you goin', Blue?"
I'm a dinkum Digger, too true!

I wanna see the Snowy River dam,
Eat steak and eggs instead of ham.
And I wanna go through like a Bondi tram,
I'm a dinkum Digger, I am.

But first I'll cuddle that koala, kiss that kangaroo,

Sabrina - Kiss a kangaroo

And I'd like to see a drongo. Do they have one at the zoo?
But before I give it a whirl, there's something I must do.
I wanna make it clear, this sheila's glad she's here.

Sabrina BBQ in Australia

I may be Down Under, but I'm on top of the world.

The Australian Women's Weekly decided to play Fairy Godmother and make Sabrina's song wishes come true. Or, at least, most of them.

So on one of Melbourne's bright, sunshiny days we took Sabrina and her ever present Mum, Mrs. Walter Sykes, to the Sir Colin McKenzie Sanctuary at Healesville, and back through the Dandenongs to Belgrave.

During the trip one wish after another came to life for Sabby, as she's rather inelegantly called most times, and by most people.

The trip started when Sabrina drifted out of her South Yarra flat in a gay ink blue-and-white satin cotton off-the-shoulder frock branched out all round over six stiffened petticoats, high splinter-heeled white sandals, AND her three-quarter-inch-long black eyelashes.

She also had with her a hatbox filled with a clothes change, and an oblong make-up box filled mostly with a large mirror.

Languidly she murmured she'd like photographer Laurie Kimber to drive her leopard-skin-lined mauve car with the gold "S" monogram on the two front doors and the purple-and-white Sabrina pennant flying from the side aerial.

Off we set, an hour and a quarter late. From Laurie's first gear change it was one long triumphal tour, with the eye-smacking car and pennant quickly recognised and greeted with waves and wolf-whistles all along the way.

At first stop, Croydon, there was a near riot as schoolchildren, shopkeepers, and others swarmed round the car while the bush picnic lunch was collected.

We thought we were marooned for the day, but eventually Laurie inched the car out of the autograph-demanding crowd to the tune of Sabby wistfully asking for an "ink pen" to sign photographs

Nobody in the "mauve wonder" had one. "Use a ballpoint pen or a pencil, Sabby, dear," practical Mum said crisply.

"I can't. It doesn't show up," said Sabby plaintively. But plenty of fans were quite content with pencil autographs.

Very soon we discovered Sabby has a ravenous appetite, and eats like a horse. A delicately boned racehorse, of course.

By 12.30 p.m. she was hungry. By 1 p.m. she was starving. By 1.30 p.m. she was obviously hungry enough to eat a horse, and look for a second helping.

Luckily, we'd purred into the Sanctuary by that time and the helpful Director, W. R. Gasking, his wife, and spruced-up-to-the nines son Richard greeted us with the glad news that they had a fire going.

So it was rapidly on with the chops, the sausages, the steak, the eggs, and the billy, and into the glowing coals with the potatoes.

Meanwhile Sabby was keeping her hunger at bay with biscuits, butter, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.

And then, believe it or not, that 18in. waisted girl disposed of - in rapid succession -two chops, two sausages, a large T-bone steak, and two eggs.

This she washed down with orange drink and, of course, billy tea, and topped it all off with a banana and a mandarin.

There was little conversation from Sabby during the bush lunch.

She paused only for photographs, preceded by a checking of every line of every single blond hair in the fringe frothing round her fair face and big blue eyes in her companion mirror, held ever at the ready by Mum.

After her lunch snack Sabby made us a nice brew of billy tea, of which she approved.
So did Mum.

After bringing true Sabby's wishes to "wander through the bush and make some billy tea" and to "eat steak and eggs instead of ham," off we set for her to cuddle a koala

"I wanna . . .
Eat steak and eggs instead of ham"

"I wanna cuddle a koala . . ." admittedly not at Taronga Zo0, but still a delicious, real-life baby koala.

The koala was willing, but at first, when she saw the long claws even a baby koala has to give him grip on mum or gum. Sabby wasn't so sure she wanted this particular song wish to come true.

But Sabby's Mum came to the rescue again, practical as ever. ''Put on your knitted wrap, Sabby, dear, and he'll just catch onto that," she said, and produced the wrap.

And so Sabby cuddled her koala.

Patting a platypus and kissing a kangaroo were much more in Sabby's line of country.

Peter the Platypus, thoughtfully dried out be forehand by Mr. Casking, received the happpiest of pats from Sabby as he squirmed and wriggled in Richard Gasking's excited hands. Then the wishing star displayed an amazing wealth of patience in persuading the chosen kangaroo to kiss her.

It was a male of the species, too.

Eventually she persuaded this reluctant cavalier - surely the only reluctant male in Australia when offered a kiss by Sabrina - to give her the kangaroo-kiss wish. But it took a salted peanut between her luscious lips to lure him.

When it came to "listening to a kookaburra laughing at me" there was a slight wish-hitch, for, to Sabby's horror, the kookaburra held for her by Mr. Casking was in process of eating a mouse.

"I can't, I can't. He's eating a mouse," squealed the back-stepping Sabby.

Mum came to the fore again. "It's all right, Sabby, dear, it's a DEAD mouse," she said comfortingly.

So Sabby crept tentatively back-but no cl'oser than she could help - and listened to the kooka's crackling laughter.

Then it was time to "go through like a Bondi tram" to Belgrave and "throw a boomerang from here to Woolloomooloo." Well, at least across the main highway.

But not before Sabby had changed into slacks and heavy sports jumper.

And not before she'd eaten a banana on the 29-mile journey and quietly demanded an ice-cream to her theme tune of "I'm hungry."

Aboriginal Bill Onus was her boomerang throwing instructor. Sabby was as excited as a two-year-old at her first party as she watched him whirl the boomerang off, round, and back to him.

She was also quite pettish when she found it wasn't as easy as it looked.

"But why won't my boomerang do that, too?" she murmured disconsolately.

"Never mind, you've thrown it, Sabby, dear," said ever-on-the-spot Mum.

The blond star was tired, but more than ever convinced of the finaL words she sings:

I may be Down Under, but I'm on top of the world."

Sabrina's "Mum," Mrs. Walter Sykes, pours tea for her big, beautiful daughter after lunch.

Page Created: 30 October 2011 - thanks to digitised newpapers!

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