Australia in the 1960s


In 1960, the Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne was opened by the Victorian premier Henry Bolte (1908–90), and became the largest shopping centre in Australia.

In the same year, the NSW premier Robert Heffron opened Warragamba Dam after 12 years of construction. The Warragamba was the largest mass gravity dam in the southern hemisphere, and held about four times the volume of water as Sydney Harbour. It still provides more than 80 per cent of Sydney's water supply.

In 1962, the final sections of the Sturt Highway were sealed with tar. This was the first time an entirely sealed road connected Adelaide and Sydney.

Between 1963 and 1972, the Ord River irrigation scheme in the Kimberley region of Western Australia was constructed.

On 3 March 1966, a public protest was held to support Jørn Utzon, the architect of the Sydney Opera House, who had resigned his commission claiming he was owed payment from the NSW Government. About 1,000 people marched on the state parliament house. Patrick White, who later won the Nobel prize for literature, along with Australia's foremost architect Harry Seidler, presented premier Robert Askin with a 3,000-signature petition demanding Utzon's reinstatement.

An aerial view of Malvern East taken in 1945; the red line shows the location of the Chadstone Shopping Centre.

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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