Australia in the 1950s

Powering Australia

In May 1953, the 100,000th Holden came off the production line at the Fishermen's Bend plant in Melbourne.

By the end of June 1955, more than 2 million motor vehicles were registered in Australia in a population not yet 10 million. This meant that nearly half the families in Australia now owned a car.

In April 1955, prime minister Robert Menzies opened the first stage of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme in the upper Snowy River, NSW. In June 1957, deputy prime minister Arthur Fadden closed the outlet gates at Adaminiby Dam and the reservoir began to fill, completing the second stage of the Scheme. On 4 May 1959, the first major power station of the Scheme, 'Tumut 1', became operational.

An aerial view of Tumut Pond Dam, New South Wales

A snapshot of 1958

  • January
    • The first Opera House lottery is held in NSW to raise money for its construction.

  • February
    • The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals (FCAA) is established and later included Torres Strait Islanders.
    • Among its leaders are Faith Bandler and Chicka Dixon, and the poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker).

  • August
    • Herb Elliott sets a world record in the mile distance race (3:54.5) at Morton Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

  • September
    • The ANZAC Day Act 1958 receives Royal Assent, making Anzac Day (25 April) a national public holiday in Australia.

  • October
    • Sir Douglas Mawson, Antarctic explorer and geologist, dies at the age of 76.

  • November
    • The first television episode of Bandstand, hosted by Brian Henderson, goes to air on TCN-9.


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