If ever a decade could be described as one of change, it was the 1960s. It was the era of the Cold and Vietnam wars, and Australia was changing economically and culturally.
As the excitement of the rock’n’roll music of the ’50s began to dim, the world discovered the sounds of four lads from Liverpool, The Beatles. The day their first single Love Me Do was played on the radio could well be the moment the ’60s started swinging.
The fashion revolution began shortly after. Suddenly the younger generation of Australian females started wearing hotpants, miniskirts and crocheted tops, while the men began discarding their drab grey flannel suits of the ’50s and went for more vibrant colours, flared trousers, floral shirts and fancy shoes.
Also, at a time when younger women were beginning to question their roles as child-rearers and homemakers, the contraceptive pill became available. For women and men, it marked the beginning of a new era of sexual freedom.
Adelaide changed dramatically in the 60s too and entered an exciting era of growth and change. TV transmission had just started (in late 1959) and we started the new decade with the opening of a glamorous hotel, the Hotel Australia, in North Adelaide.
According to afternoon newspaper The News, “… the new hotel ranks with the best in the Commonwealth. Built for £650,000, it is expected to give SA a substantially bigger share of future overseas and interstate tourist traffic and make Adelaide a ‘must’ in travel itineraries”.
It is now a block of apartments.
The inaugural Festival of Arts (now known as the Adelaide Festival) ran from Saturday, March 12, to Saturday, March 26, 1960, led by artistic director Professor John Bishop.
The Beatles arrived in Adelaide on June 12th 1964 to the biggest reception they received anywhere. More than 300,000 people turned out to welcome the Fab Four.
In July 1964, Adelaide was back in the world news again with Englishman Donald Campbell setting a world land speed record of 403.1 mph (648.7 km/h) on the dry saltpan at Lake Eyre.
He later paraded his sleek four-tonne Bluebird in Adelaide and a large crowd gathered to see him drive the jet car down King William St.
Many people believe Adelaide lost its innocence forever on January 26, 1966, when the Beaumont children disappeared. Jane, 9, her sister Arnna, 7, and their brother Grant, 4, of Somerton Park, were last seen on their way to Glenelg beach. Their disappearance remains one of SA’s most puzzling mysteries.
In 1965, South Australians voted overwhelmingly in a state referendum in favour of establishing a state-run organisation to promote and conduct a lottery. The Lotteries Commission of SA was established and the first lottery tickets went on sale on May 15, 1967.
The end of the “six o’clock swill’’ in the state happened on September 29, 1967. From that date, you could get a drink up to 10pm. SA was the last state to make the change and in removing the restriction, Premier Don Dunstan made a step towards erasing the “wowser’’ tag sometimes applied to SA by those living in other states.
As the decade drew to a close, the Vietnam War began to increasingly divide the nation. The anti-war movement had gained momentum and by the late ’60s, protest marches were held frequently in Adelaide. The largest moratorium march, in Victoria Square on May 9, 1970, attracted more than 5000 people.
What are your memories of the ‘swingin’ 60s?