Everybody (in Australia anyway) loves an underdog, a story of victory against the odds. And in 1997 we got some big ones.
The lovable little story of the regular Aussie larrikan (or, more specifically, Kerrigan) who takes on the big guys and wins, The Castle was an immediate surprise hit, with much of the dialogue (“Tell him he’s dreamin!”) instantly entering the national lexicon.
A sporting fairytale was just what was needed in the newly formed NRL competition too. After the devastating Super League had ended in a compromised detente, the fans needed something to feel good about. And they got it when, in the dying seconds of the grand final, Newcastle winger Darren Albert scored a try in the dying seconds to crush the silvertail dreams of the villainous Manly Sea Eagles and provide some measure of catharsis to Rugby League tragics everywhere.
But the most incredible, and important, was that of Stuart Diver and the Thredbo landslide.
When 1100 tonnes of unstable earth dislodged and slid down the slope of the Thredbo Alpine Village, it destroyed two ski lodges and took 18 lives. Against incredible odds and after surviving 3 days without food or water, rescuers discovered Stuart Diver, who was rescued as the sole survivor from this otherwise bleak tragedy. His story would live on and offer hope and inspiration to many.
1997 also saw:
– Whale watching expeditions begin departing from Scarborough Marina
– Bridge over Albatross Canal on Griffith Rd, Newport, opened by Kay Cottee
– British yachtsman Tony Bullimore is rescued in the Southern Ocean five days after his boat capsized
– Australia’s telecommunications market is deregulated, paving the way for other entities to compete with Telstra and Optus
– A 12 year old girl is killed and 9 other people are injured when a crowd of 100,000 watches the Royal Canberra Hospital implosion
– Australian Democrats leader Senator Cheryl Kernot defects to the ALP for a seat in the Lower House on Labor’s frontbench
– Hong Kong is returned to Chinese rule
– The Hale-Bopp comet passes Earth at what will be its closest range until the year 4397
– There is a worldwide outpouring of anger and grief when Diana, Princess of Wales, is killed in a car accident, caused by chasing paparazzi
– In the feel good story of the year, The Newcastle Knights win one of the most exciting grand finals in Rugby League history with Darren Albert’s last minute try sealing a 22-16 victory over the villainous Manly Sea Eagles
– James Cameron’s Titanic, the most expensive film ever made, surprises critics and stuns audiences worldwide and becomes the highest grossing film of all time
– As Good as it Gets, The Ice Storm, L.A. Confidential, Good Will Hunting, Boogie Nights, Jackie Brown are released
Deaths: Jacques Cousteau (25 June), James Stewart (2 July), Gianni Versace (15 July), William S. Burroughs (2 August), Mother Teresa (5 September), Michael Hutchence (22 November)