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March 8th 1930

Gold Coast Qld Australia

Felix Kaspar, Jacques Gershweiler

International contributions
Holiday On Ice, Casa Carioca Ice Show

1952, Oslo

British Championships
1952, London

Developer and operator of ice rinks across Melbourne and interstate with husband, Pat Burley, including Ringwood Iceland.

NANCY KATHRYN BURLEY, wife of Pat, was born in Melbourne on March 8th 1930, the daughter of Clarence Hallam, a Flinders Lane importer, and Gladys. She was 9 years old when she began to skate at Melbourne Glaciarium. Coached by Felix Kaspar, she won the third 'Richmond Trophy' (1951, London) which ran from 1949 to 1980, and was largely the inspiration of Arnold Gerschwiler OBE (1914-2003) after he became an instructor at London's Richmond Ice Rink in 1937. Burley was a British Championship competitior (1951, 6th/8); World Championship competitor (1952 Paris, 15th/22); and Olympic representative (1952 Oslo, aggregate of 135.633 points, 14/25). The Argus newspaper reported from Oslo "Miss Hallam received more applause than many of her famous rivals for her series of sit -spins and flying tops". Her "famous rivals" included the medalists Jeannette Altwegg (GBR), Tenley Albright  (USA), and Jacqueline du Bief (FRA).

Burley then skated her way through Japan, Manila and Europe in ice shows with Felix Kaspar, Holiday on Ice, with Terry Rudolph at Casa Carioca, and the ice ballet 'Gaite Parisienne" with Max Isaacs and company. Back home in the mid-1950s, she was a skating instructor at the St Moritz rink in Melbourne, training future national and international champions including olympians Mary Wilson, Aileen Shaw, and later her own daughters, Sharon and Robyn. For 6 years or so from 1957, she devised, choreographed and skated lead roles in a series of fourteen ice ballets for ABC television filmed at the St Moritz ice rink in St Kilda. Themes such as Gaite Parisienne, Cinderella, Arabian Ice, The Enchanted Lake (1963) and a circus ballet (1963) with 17 skaters, showcased the talents of many young Australian dancers. On 11 April 1960, Burley skated in the ABC-TV ice show Spotlight On Ice with Marilyn Wright, Gerda Goddard and others. [454] Her Channel 2 telecasts were shown in all states, winning national acclaim and contributing to the resurgence in skating from the early 1960s.

Nancy Hallam and Gweneth Molony were Australia's first ever women's winter Olympians at the 1952 Winter games. Pat, Nancy, Sharon and Robyn were four of the 22 inaugural inductees to Ice Skating Australia's Hall of Fame in August 2004. Nancy Burley died on 7 January 2013. Her obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald is reproduced below:

Olympic ice skater became showbiz star

Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February 2013 by Belinda Chambers
With Sharon Sullivan, Pat Burley and Robyn Burley

NANCY Burley, who fell in love with ice skating at an early age, competed in the Winter Olympics, became a show-business star and later devoted her life to promoting the sport, has died on the Gold Coast. Nancy was born to Clarence and Gladys Hallam. Her childhood in Hawthorn remained precious to her throughout her life. It seems those days were filled with tennis parties and beach holidays. Pat Burley, the cousin of a friend of hers, recalls: "She was so athletic, so fit, she could run, swim like a fish, and was the best body surfer anyone ever saw. She was so full of fun, how can you not fall in love with a girl like that?"

Nancy went to school at Merton Hall. Her favourite subject was art, but for the most part she was a reluctant student. Her parents, thinking a change might help, moved her to St Michael's. She went on to study creative arts at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Her first major sporting achievement was to win the Victorian under-12 diving championship. The next step in her training was the high-diving platform. Being strong of mind, Nancy refused, bringing to an end her diving career. Not long afterwards she decided figure skating was her passion and began to skate seriously. She skated at the Melbourne Glaciarium where her coach was a world champion, Felix Kaspar. When Kaspar moved to Sydney she followed him.

In January 1951, Nancy married Pat at the All Saints' Church of England in St Kilda. Later that year she gained the title of Victorian senior champion and in the national championship came second, after Gweneth Molony. Not satisfied with second place, she sailed with Pat to London to train with Jacques Gershweiler, who coached Jeanette Altwegg, the then world champion and a future Olympic champion. While in London she competed in the British championship, finishing a creditable fourth. Nancy was an exciting skater, known for her speed over the ice and the height of her jumps. Gershweiler credited her with the best double loop in the world.

In 1952 Nancy followed Gershweiler to St Moritz in Switzerland to prepare for the Winter Olympic Games in Oslo, Norway. Nancy enjoyed the accommodation in the Olympic village and was presented with the Australian Olympic athletes' jacket and tie, but the assistance she received was in stark contrast to that of today's Olympic athletes. Still, the challenge and the adventure were reward enough for Nancy. She and Molony were the first women to represent Australia in the Winter Olympics. Nancy's inspiring freestyle performance won her 12th place, with an overall final placing of 14th. In 1973, the president of the Australian Olympic Federation, Sir Edgar Tanner, said in his official Olympic report that Nancy's performance at the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics remained the best performance by an Australian winter Olympian in the intervening 20 years. Following her Olympic career and at the request of Kaspar, her former coach, she turned professional to partner him in an ''international ice show''.

During this time she performed an impromptu audition for the famous Holiday on Ice show. Her performance was impressive and, although the casting had been finalised, Nancy was hired as the principal of the show. She travelled throughout Europe with Holiday on Ice and starred in the first ice show to tour Japan and east Asia after World War II. Nancy was then asked to star in an ice show directed by Terry Rudolph at the Casa Carioca, a small but important nightclub in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany, where skaters performed on a nine-by-12-metre ice floor accompanied by a 17-piece live orchestra. While she was performing there, Pat succeeded in his application to design and construct a golf course in the Libyan desert for the American Air Force. Nancy went with him and their first child, Sharon, was born in May 1956 in Libya. They quickly decided that Tripoli was too dangerous for their child and returned to Melbourne where Nancy began a professional coaching career. She coached at the St Moritz ice rink in St Kilda and trained several national champions and Olympic representatives, including Mary Wilson and Aileen Shaw.

In 1958, their second daughter, Robyn, was born. The two little girls were a gift for Nancy. Their ice skating talent was an immense joy to her and their development formed much of the purpose of her life for the next 20 years. Pat and Nancy supplied the floor for the first international ice show to tour Australia, Ice Capades. The floor became the Moorabbin Ice Skating Rink, and began their many years in partnership owning and operating ice rinks across Melbourne.

In 1970, now parents to three daughters, Pat and Nancy opened Australia's first custom-built ice skating rink in Ringwood. Under Nancy's guidance, the Ringwood Figure Skating Club became the most successful in Australia. It was home to 70 per cent of Australian championship titles and included world and Olympic representatives Sharon Burley, Billy Schober, Cameron Medhurst and world professional champion Robyn Burley. Nancy used her many alliances around the world to benefit Australian ice skating, bringing many world-famous skaters and coaches to Australia. In 1977 she left Melbourne to begin a new life on the Gold Coast. Her health declined in her last six months due to a form of blood cancer. She was survived by Pat, her three daughters and seven grandchildren.

01. Historical Notes

[1] Other post-war rinks in Victoria included: the Oakleigh Olympic rink at 1089 Centre Road, just two-thirds Olympic size (52m by 31m), but now Melbourne's only surviving rink. It was opened by Harry Long and Graham Argue in July 1971. Graham and wife Pat, skated in ice shows for many years in China and South East Asia as well as Australia. Argue also operated an outdoor rink at Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains for a short while. In Bendigo, a large ice rink was opened in August 1986.  It was managed by Len van der Graf and closed in 2007, then reopened with local Council assistance in 2008.

[2] Geoffrey T Fawke was rink consultant for the Oakleigh rink, the Iceworld rinks in Queensland and the Penrith Ice Palace in Sydney's western suburbs, developed and owned by Ice Point International Pty Ltd. Fawke is a builder by trade and self-taught in refrigeration. He has 36 years experience in the ice skating industry and has been responsible for the construction of four permanent ice rinks, three of which he helped design and project manage. He has owned and operated portable ice tanks and has toured ice shows through out Australia, Malaysia and China. He installed the portable Olympic sized rink and barriers at Boondall Entertainment Centre in Brisbane for the Junior World Figure Skating Championships in 1988 and 1996, and the the Goodwill Games in Brisbane in 2001.

[3] Pat Burley, established Burley Ice Rinks Pty Ltd in 1964 in Victoria, a developer-operator of rinks in in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. He developed permanent rinks and also portable rinks for touring ice shows. His suburban rink at 28–30 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, Victoria had an ice pad of 52m by 21m. It was home ice to the Blackhawks IHC, established 1947, one of the oldest Victorian clubs still operating, although it lacked spectator facilities and could not foster adequate sponsorship for amateur hockey. It was a magnet for youth for many years and bands such as AC/DC played there in the 1970s. The Australian National Women's Ice Hockey Championships were held there in 2001, and the rink closed soon after. In 1970, Burley took over the lease of Sydney's Prince Alfred Park outdoor rink from Sydney Croll. Efforts had been made over the years to have the City Council roof the rink to provide protection during wet weather. Although some roofing was provided over the entry area, the Council steadfastly refused to allow further cover because it felt the exhilarating atmosphere of skating outdoors would be lost. It was not until the late 1970’s that roofing was installed. John Kendall-Baker, husband of Jackie Mason, was one of its managers. Prince Alfred Park rink closed in 1985.

[4] The first Burley rink (1964) was a portable ice floor for the first ever tour of Australia by a major ice show company, the American Ice Capades in 1964-5. The company then opened a temporary rink in Albury, between Sydney and Melbourne, which remained open for two years. In 1966, they opened a permanent mid-size rink 36m by 18m (120’ x 60’) at Moorabbin, a Melbourne suburb, on the corner of South and Warrigal Roads, which closed in 1970. In 1971, they opened Iceland, a large rink 56m by 26m (185’ x 85’), at Whitehorse Road, Ringwood. It remained open for 11 years until January 1982. In 1994, Michael Lalik, who owned a small studio rink in Adelaide, acquired the site and re-opened it until 2003.  Lalik then opened a club rink at Bayswater in 2004, but it closed the same year. Don Gallagher had opened a full size ice rink at Dandenong in 1977, which he later sold to the Burleys, but it closed in 1987 after 10 years of operation. The Burley company operated a second large size rink also named Iceland between 1979–86 at Footscray, in Melbourne's western suburbs. 

[5] Over the years, the Burleys also operated many temporary ice rinks, some under canvas, others in disused cinemas, old factory buildings and open air. Ballarat (1970) was managed by Peter Rintel, husband of national figure skating judge Liz Rintel, and manager of three Australian World Championship ice hockey squads in 1986–7, 1987–8 and 1988–9. [7] Their son, James Rintel, competed in the 1988–9 World Championship. The Rintel family was possibly related to the family of Norm Joseph. Other temporary rinks were located at Surfers Paradise in a tent; Pacific Fair Shopping Centre at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast; another at Auburn; much later at Luna Park, Sydney; near Crown Casino in Melbourne; Wollongong just south of Sydney; Fox Studios in Sydney at the old showgrounds; and then Iceland rink in 1994, again on the Gold Coast at Strathaird Road, Bundall, which was still operating in 2013 after a major refurbishment (56m by 26m, like it's Melbourne forerunner). It is run by Graham Sullivan and his wife Sharon Kay Burley (1956 – ). Up until 2008, Burley Ice Rinks has constructed temporary ice rinks around the world, for companies such as Moscow Circus, Disney on Ice and exclusively The Torvil and Dean Show. In recent years Burley Ice Rinks has had ice rinks in Southbank, Melbourne and Fox Studios Sydney.

02. Citation Details

Ross Carpenter, 'Burely, Nancy Kathryn (1930 - 2013)', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia,, accessed online .

03. Select Bibliography

[454] 'Australian Skating Stars in Ice Show Telecast', The Age, Melbourne, 7 Apr 1960, p 14.

[455] 'Seven Girls Compete For An Ice Title', The Sunday Herald, Sydney, Sun 2 Aug 1953, p 41.

'Ice Skating Is Not A Chilly Hobby', Martin King. The Age, Melbourne, Sep 14 1962.

'Arabian Ice' ABC-TVs 14th Ice Ballet, The Australian Women's Weekly, Wed 8 May 1963, p 21.

04. Citations
Citations | 1 - 280 | 281-on |
G A L L E R YArrows at right scroll the images
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Tartan On Ice',

'Victorian Champion, The Argus, Melbourne, 19 Jul 1949.

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Article: 'Ice Skating Is Not A Chilly Hobby'

Martin King. The Age Sep 14 1962.

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Nancy Burley

Sydney Morning Herald

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Nancy Burley at Streatham Ice Rink, London, f

1952 British figure skating championships. News, Adelaide.

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Nancy Burley with Marilyn Wright, Melbourne, 1962.

The Age newspaper.

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'Arabian Ice' ABC-TVs 14th Ice Ballet, 1963.

All 14 were devised and choreographed for TV by Nancy Hallam at St Moritz St Kilda over a period of six years. The Australian Women's Weekly, Wed 8 May 1963, p 21.