Timeline of 1960s Australian News and Entertainment Events

Back to ‘The Beatles in Australia’


Concert promoter Lee Gordon brings to Australia Crash Craddock, Duane Eddy, Tommy Sands, Chan Romero, Jerry Lee Lewis, Everly Brothers, Bobby Rydell, Pat Boone, Harry Belafonte, Ricky Nelson

Kenn Brodziak’s Aztec Services brings to Australia the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Winifred Atwell, Lonnie Donegan and George Shearing

7 March
Arthur Calwell replaces H. V. Evatt as leader of the Australian Labour Party

The Mouseketeers tour Australia

27 June
Johnny O’Keefe is injured when he crashes his car near Kempsey, NSW

Lee Gordon opens the Big Boy Drive-In restaurant at Taverner’s Hill in Sydney

Lee Gordon loses money promoting the 1st Annual Aust International Jazz Festival, a massive tour starring Dizzy Gillespie, Teddy Wilson, Jonah Jones Quartet, Sarah Vaughan, Jimmy Rushing, Dakota Staton, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Gene McDaniels, Coleman Hawkins, Al Hibbler and Ray Price’s Port Jackson Jazz Band



Lee Gordon brings to Australia Sammy Davis Jr, Bobby Rydell, Brenda Lee, Duane Eddy, Chubby Checker, Connie Francis, the Ventures, Johnny Burnette, Bobby Vee, Frank Sinatra

Lee Gordon disappears, has a mental breakdown and is admitted to Mt Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles

Tours of Australia by Jimmie Rodgers, Dion, Freddie Cannon, Roy Orbison, Marty Robbins, Kingston Trio

Australian economy goes into a brief recession, due to a credit squeeze

Introduction of the oral contraceptive pill in Australia

25 February
Last Sydney tram runs, on the La Perouse line

19 August
Four Corners begins on ABC TV

Aztec Services presents Cliff Richard & the Shadows

9 December
Menzies government narrowly re-elected



Lee Gordon brings to Australia Chubby Checker, Del Shannon, Lenny Bruce

Lee Gordon tours a Twist show in USA but it flops

Aztec Services tours Helen Shapiro

Completion of coaxial cable linking Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, facilitating the rapid exchange of information and making the beginning of national TV networks technically possible

The ABC installs its first videotape recording facilities in capital city stations

Commonwealth Electoral Act gives all Indigenous Australians the right to enrol and vote at federal elections, removing restrictions applying in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory



Folk music booms with Australian tours by Peter Paul & Mary and Trini Lopez

1 January
Scientist Dr Gilbert Bogle and Mrs Margaret Chandler are found dead, presumed poisoned

ABC uses coaxial cable for national live coverage of test cricket

TV stations GTV-9 and TCN-9 align to form the National Television Network, with QTQ-9 and NWS-9. The Australian Television Network is formed by HSV-7 and ATN-7, along with BTQ-7 and ADS-7.

Promoter John Harrigan turns the Kings Cross Theatre into a live venue called Surf City

The Yolngu people of Yirrkala in Arnhem Land send painted bark petitions to the House of Representatives asserting ownership of their land

6 November
Lee Gordon dies in a London hotel room, under mysterious circumstances

Jimmy Little’s recording of ‘Royal Telephone’ released by Festival Records

30 November
Menzies government is returned with an increased majority, in the first live national TV coverage of a federal election

Menzies knighted



Australian tours by Peter, Paul & Mary, Screaming Lord Sutch, Ray Charles, The Searchers, Peter and Gordon, Del Shannon

The height of the summer of surf music

Harry M. Miller promoter of the Surfside ’64 tour – TheBeach Boys, Roy Orbison, The Surfaris, Paul & Paula, The Joyboys

10 February
The RAN’s destroyer Voyager sinks after a collision with aircraft carrier Melbourne in Jervis Bay, with 82 dead. A Royal Commission will blame Voyager.

Harry M. Miller promoter of the Liverpool Sound tour — Gerry & the Pacemakers, Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney, Brian Poole & the Tremeloes

1 May
NSW becomes the last state to increase the speed limit in built-up areas from 30 miles per hour to 35 (56 kms per hour)

Harry M. Miller promoter of the ill-fated Judy Garland tour

17 June
The Beatles Sing for Shell recorded by GTV-9, screened early July

Harry M. Miller tours classical pianist Artur Rubinstein

15 July
Rupert Murdoch starts The Australian newspaper

25 July
Cricketer Bob Simpson scores 311, his first test century, against England at Old Trafford

1 August
Melbourne’s third commercial TV station ATV-0 opens

Aztec Services presents the Mersey Beat Show — Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas, Rob E G, The Cicadas, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs

23 September
Editors of satirical underground magazine Oz, Richard Neville, Richard Walsh and Martin Sharp, are jailed for publishing an ‘obscene publication’

28 September
Australia’s tennis players regain the Davis Cup, defeating the USA

13 October
Dawn Fraser wins her third consecutive Olympic 100 metres freestyle gold medal in Tokyo

20 October
First episode of Homicide screens in Melbourne; the show lasts 12 years

11 November
Mavis Bramston Show first aired (in Sydney and Canberra)

National Service Act is passed into law, meaning that men aged 20 will be conscripted to military training. Conscripts to be chosen by ballot based on date of birth.

ATV-0’s first Australian production The Go!! show launched, hosted by Alan Field



Australian tours by P.J. Proby, The Bachelors, Gene Pitney

Aztec Services presents ‘The Big Show’ — Manfred Mann, The Kinks, The Honeycombs, Tony Sheveton, Tony Worsley & the Blue Jays

Harry M. Miller tours TheRolling Stones, Roy Orbison, The Newbeats

12 January
The bodies of two schoolgirls are found at Sydney’s Wanda Beach; the murders remain unsolved

18 January
Registration forms for National Service are available at all post offices. All males turning 20 between 1 January and 30 June must register within three weeks.

Freedom Ride, led by Charles Perkins, draws attention to racial discrimination in country NSW

1 March
Dawn Fraser and three other female swimmers are given long bans by the Australian Swimming Union after reports of misbehaviour at the Tokyo Olympics

6 March
Large bushfires in Victoria and NSW

Aztec Services presents Cilla Black, Sounds Incorporated, Freddie & the Dreamers

5 April
New Sydney TV channel TEN-10 opens

29 April
Menzies announces Australia will send troops to Vietnam

13 May
Bob Askin becomes first Liberal Premier of NSW

Australian government amends the Defence Act, meaning National Servicemen could be forced to serve overseas.

Aztec Services presents ‘The Big Show’ — Dave Clark Five, The Seekers, Tommy Quickly, Bobby & Laurie

30 June
Australia’s first major military action in Vietnam during an attack on a communist jungle stronghold near Bien Hoa

Normie Rowe’s double-sided hit ‘Que Sera Sera’/’Shakin All Over’ stays on the charts for 28 weeks and sells more than 100,000 copies

1 July
TVQ-0 commences transmission in Brisbane

7 July
The Don Lane Show and In Melbourne Tonight share a split screen via coaxial cable, in an Australian first

9 July
Australian golfer Peter Thompson wins his fifth British Open championship

30 October
British model Jean Shrimpton shocks the establishment by wearing a short dress to Derby Day at Flemington, with no hat or gloves

26 November
Police stop an Easybeats concert in Brisbane after 16,000 teenagers riot, trying to climb on the stage

27 November
The Seekers reach Number 1 in Britain with ‘The Carnival Is Over’

14 December
Doug Walters scores 165 against England in his first cricket Test

Australia’s third commercial television network is formed by the new stations TEN-10, ATV-0, TVQ-0 and SAS-10



Australian tours by The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Searchers, Tom Jones, Herman’s Hermits, P.J. Proby, Eden Kane

Normie Rowe headlines his own national tour

The ban on the employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service is lifted

26 January
Menzies retires; Harold Holt becomes Prime Minister

14 February
Introduction of decimal currency

18 July
Play School begins on ABC TV

18 August
Battle of Long Tan, between Australian forces and the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army units; entertainers Little Pattie and Col Joye are caught on the fringes

18 September
St George wins the last of eleven rugby league grand finals in a row, defeating Balmain 23-4

24 September
St Kilda wins its first and only VFL grand final, defeating Collingwood by one point

20 October
Lyndon Johnson becomes the first serving US President to visit Australia

The Easybeats release ‘Friday on my Mind’

25 November
Down Under Comes Up Live screened on BBC, the first television transmission linking Australia with overseas, using the commercial global satellite network known as Intelsat II

26 November
Holt government re-elected; the Vietnam War is the key election issue



Australian tours by Roy Orbison, The Yardbirds, Walker Brothers, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Eric Burdon & the Animals, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

3 February
Ronald Ryan becomes the last person legally executed in Australia

7 February
Black Tuesday bushfires kill 62 in Tasmania

8 February
Gough Whitlam becomes leader of the Australian Labor Party

10 April
This Day Tonight begins on ABC TV

17 April
The first legal talkback radio program goes to air, hosted by Mike Walsh on 2SM

27 May
Over 90% of Australians vote ‘Yes’ in a referendum to change the constitution to allow Aborigines to be included in the population count and to allow the federal government to legislate for them

29 May
Release of the $5 note

30 May
NSW Attorney General’s and Justice departments ban employees wearing short skirts and coloured stockings

7 June
Australia takes part in a global live satellite telecast highlighting Expo 67 in Montreal

25 June
Our World, a two-hour satellite telecast screened simultaneously in 30 countries, includes segments produced in 18 countries, including Australia

Tennis player John Newcombe wins his first Wimbledon singles title

The first US servicemen arrive from Vietnam on Rest and Recreation (R&R) leave

17 December
Prime Holt Minister Holt disappears in dangerous surf at Cheviot Beach



Australian tours by The Who, The Small Faces, The Monkees

10 January
John Gorton, newly elected leader of the Liberal Party, becomes Prime Minister

Normie Rowe inducted into the army

26 February
Aboriginal boxer Lionel Rose defeats Fighting Harada to become world bantamweight champion

8 August
Copyright Act passed by Australian Parliament



Normie Rowe sent to fight in Vietnam

13 April
The last tram runs in Brisbane

5 June
Opening of Australian production of the American stage music Hair

21 July
Australian television broadcasts live coverage of the Apollo II moon landing

25 October
Gorton government narrowly re-elected; David Williamson later sets his play Don’s Party on this night

Crawford Productions and GTV-9 launch Division 4, which becomes the second highest rating Australian program after Homicide



8 May
First Moratorium demonstration against the Vietnam War attended by 100,000 people in Melbourne

1 June
Last concert before demolition of Sydney Stadium – The Four Tops, The Flying Circus

Pope Paul VI visits Australia

ABC begins telecasts of an entire Ashes series for the first time. England wins two nil.