22 November – 8 December 1956
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. It was the first time the Games had been staged in the Southern Hemisphere and the first time Australians had the opportunity to view the Olympics on television.
After a series of parliamentary debates and a Royal Commission, television was introduced to Australia in time for the Melbourne Olympics. Bruce Gyngell famously welcomed Sydney viewers to television on the 16th of September 1956 and on the 4th of November, Melbourne viewers were greeted by the Premier of Victoria, Henry Bolte, as he officially opened the HSV7 studios in South Melbourne.
The Laurie Richards Collection contains an interesting record of Australia’s television pioneers. Richards was a professional photographer and captured the ABC news team at work filming and broadcasting the Games into Australian homes.
If you are interested in the story of television and the Olympics, The National Museum of Australia has a great article in their Defining Moments in Australian History series. Another wonderful resource is the National Film and Sound Archive NFSA Films YouTube channel, where you can watch hours of footage from the 1956 Olympics created by professional and amateur filmmakers.
Part 2 will explore the Olympic Arts Festival and other theatrical events staged during the Games. In the meantime, why not have a look at all things Olympic in our online collection. There’s even a splash of Kylie.