Fifty Five Years Ago Today, The Beatles Came Here to Play

by Kerry Cue

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purple quote 1Those who do not move,

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………………do not notice their chains.

     ………………………..Rosa Luxemburg, Polish Jewish Philosopher, 1871 – 1919.

Sibylesque Signature purple

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Fifty-Five Years Ago and Far, Far Away!

On 12 JUNE 1964, the Beatles landed in Adelaide to begin their month-long Australian tour.

Beatles Melbourne

The Australia of the time was rigidly conservative. In his book, The Lucky Country, published in 1964 author Donald Horne wrote ‘Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.’  

Although The Beatles were mobbed on their Aussie tour, more Australians turned out a few years earlier, in 1959, to hear American evangelist, Billy Graham preach the word of the Lord. In fact, 3 million Australians (Aus Pop: 12 million) attended Graham’s sermons.

Billy Graham MCG 1959

Billy Graham Rally MCG 1959

The Beatles music, including the 1964 tour, was simply the pop music fanfare announcing the massive social and political change sweeping through Australia in the 1960s. Australians were, at last, in Rosa Luxemberg’s view (quote above) beginning to move. The changes included the Sexual Revolution (The pill hit the market here in 1961, ironically, that was the year Marriage rates peaked at 62% of Aussie adults.), Civil Rights (All Indigenous Australian adults got the vote in 1962), anti-war protests (Starting around 1962), feminism (Starting with The Female Mystique, Betty Freidman, 1963), environmental protection (Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 1962), Gay Rights (Groups formed at the end of the 1960s but laws took much longer to change.) and more.

Some changes were slow. In 1963 pubs still closed at 6pm perpetuating the 6 o’clock swill in Qld, Vic, and SA. City centres were dead on Sundays. The shops closed at 12pm Saturday. Then again, there were no credit cards. No credit. You paid cash.(That’s in £sd. $ arrived in 1966) But you could smoke anywhere!

student protest Sydney Uni 1962

Look at these uni students of ’62. They are conservatively dressed. Some are even wearing ties! In the early ‘60s young people dressed like their parents. Boys wore ties. Girls wore suits. The fans that mobbed The Beatles in 1964 dressed like their parents. Even The Beatles wore ties! The Youth Culture, however, was about to begin. ( See 1964 – 1970: When fashion was a social revolution, not just a brand! )

In 1964, conservative Australia was crumbling, but it took time. In June 1964, I watched The Beatles arrive in Melbourne on a Black and White TV set with my friend Lynette screaming ‘Ringo’ and sobbing into a handkerchief. I was in year 8 at the Sacred Heart Convent Kyneton. The nuns didn’t teach maths to girls just arithmetic and needlework! (See Bimbos 4Eva)

My parents let me leave the convent to attend the local high school where they DID teach maths to girls and I went on to study maths at University. But I was fortunate. Girls’ choices were still limited in the 1960s. We were guided into ‘family friendly’ occupations such as hairdressing, nursing, teaching, and secretarial work. These were perfectly fine occupations, but often poorly paid. Meanwhile, married women could not work in the Public Service (until 1966). Equal pay was not ratified until 1974. (Many female occupations were exempt until that date.)

Perhaps, we should have listened more closely when in 1968 The Beatles sang Lady Madonna:

The Beatles Lady Madonna
Who finds the money when you pay the rent

Did you think that money was heaven sent

Despite being taught arithmetic and needlework, finding the money is something we’ve had to deal with ever since the ‘60s.


Kerry Cue is a humorist, journalist, mathematician, and author. You can find more of her writing on her blog. Her latest book is a crime novel, Target 91, Penmore Press, Tucson, AZ (2019)

Photo source: 1. Britishbeatlemania blog, 2. Wheaton College Archive, 3. Wheaaton College Archive, 4. Sydney Uni Archive. 5. Unsourved



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