Women's Weekly children's birthday cake-off goes on display.

By Alkira Reinfrank.

It was the book that changed the shape of birthday parties across the country and on Saturday, all 107 cakes from the Australian Women’s Weekly birthday cookbook went on display for charity.

From the jelly-filled swimming pool to the popcorn train, birthday cakes from the whimsical Women’s Weekly cookbook have wowed Australian children for almost four decades.

These cakes could make or break a birthday party with pressure resting on parents to bring to life the colourful and sometimes tricky creations.

All 107 of the cakes from the famous 1980s cookbook were put on show in Canberra in a bid to raise money for local post and antenatal depression support service PANDSI.

More than 1,500 people came to see the nostalgic display baked by volunteers, with all the cakes being auctioned off on Saturday afternoon — raising more than $9,000.

Cake judge Pamela Clark is no stranger to the cookbook.

She was the original creator of many of the Women’s Weekly’s most recognisable cakes including the Swimming Pool and the Dolly Varden.

“I’m responsible for the pool,” she said.

“I don’t know where the idea came from. I just thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to turn a round cake into a swimming pool’.”

From 1969 to 1983, Ms Clark was in charge of the Women’s Weekly test kitchen, overseeing the creation of thousands of baked goods.


“I organised all the recipe testing, all the photos, everything that went on to make sure a perfect recipe was produced,” she said.

“I tested over half of them in the original book.”

After almost four decades, Ms Clark still works at Women’s Weekly, now as the food and editorial director of cookbooks.

Under her guidance, Women’s Weekly has published dozens of books.

But she said none had been as successful as the beloved 1980s publication.

Ms Clark said the book has stood the test of time due to the simplicity of the recipes.

“There is certainly magic in the air in that book and it has been an iconic publication,” she said.

“We have done seven or eight publications after that one and probably all together they have not sold as well as that book.”

PANDSI using cake to break down stigma

PANDSI helps about 250 Canberra families each year through its telephone service, playgroups, exercise classes, dad information sessions and support programs.

The not-for-profit group receives funding from ACT Health but relies on donations and events such as the cake-off to fund their growing demand.


Canberran Rachel Bursell used PANDSI’s services after the birth of both her children.

She was admitted to the Mother and Baby unit after giving birth to her daughter ten years ago and her son two years ago.

“They had telephone counselling, they had group support, they had an exercise program which made a huge difference to my recovery,” she said.

“I think there is a huge stigma associated with post natal depression.

“I think babies are born and women are expected to just love their children unconditionally and when you don’t it can be very isolating.”

To show her support, Ms Bursell baked a paintbox cake for the auction.

“I actually have the original cookbook that my mum had,” she said.

“It’s like an heirloom and I think the appeal of today is that we have all had these cakes as children and they are not particularly hard to make either.”

All the money raised from the auction will go towards PANDSI’s services.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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TAP THE IMAGE and scroll through the gallery of cakes. Photos by Megan Sparke, Photography and Digital Content Creation.