Australia in the 1960s

The 60s pop culture

On 4 July 1960, the quiz TV show Pick-a-Box began being sponsored by BP. It was one of the longest-running and most popular Australian TV programs.

In 1963, an American physicist, Julius Sumner Miller (1909–87), appeared in his own science-based ABC TV series called Why is it So? The show was a hit, partly due to Miller's enthusiasm and also for his way of presenting science as 'fun'. The program was broadcast from1963 to 1986.

In 1964, at the height of Beatlemania, the Beatles toured Australia. In Adelaide, the band was greeted by an estimated 300,000 people (approximately one-third of the city's population) lining the 15-kilometre route from the airport.

In 1965, the Seekers folk group produced the single I'll never find another you. It was the first Australian single to sell a million copies.

In June 1969, the live rock musical Hair had its first performance in Australia at the Sydney Metro Theatre. In one scene, the cast appeared naked on stage.

In the late 1960s, Australian television was connected to the international satellite system. Along with the rest of the world, Australians could now watch world events televised live, such as the first moon landing in 1969.

On 30 October 1965, the British supermodel, Jean Shrimpton, triggered an international controversy when she attended Derby Day at Melbourne's Flemington Racecourse in a mini-skirt with no hat, gloves or stockings.

A snapshot of 1968

  • January
    • Senator John Gorton becomes prime minister after the disappearance of Harold Holt, presumed drowned off Portsea, Victoria.
    • The Tet Offensive is launched during the Vietnam War. North Vietnamese troops attempt to take significant South Vietnamese strongholds in the one offensive action.

  • February
    • The Draft Resistance Movement is formed. They declare that the group not only opposes conscription, but intends to destroy it.
    • WC Wentworth is appointed the first minister for Aboriginal Affairs, although he has no department under his control.

  • May
    • A mineral investment boom begins on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
    • The Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi visits Australia.

  • December
    • The breathalyser test for drink-driving is introduced in NSW.


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