Melbourne Olympic Games

22 November – 8 December 1956

Part 1

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.

laurie-richards-collection-abc-330
Calling it how they see it – sports commentators at the Melbourne Olympics, 1956. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 330.

 

laurie-richards-collection-abc-332
Filming from the newly erected Olympic Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), 1956. Performing Arts Collection Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 332.
abc-333
An ABC TV cameraman films the athletics competition, 1956. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 333.
abc-335
Inside the ABC broadcast van, 1956. This van is now part of the National Museum of Australia’s collection. Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne. Laurie Richards Collection ABC 335. 

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.

Published by

Performing Arts Collection

Arts Centre Melbourne's Performing Arts Collection is the national leader among specialist performing arts collections in Australia. Established in 1975, it is formally recognised as a State collection and encompasses the history of circus, dance, music, opera and theatre. The Collection features over 640,000 items including costumes, designs, photographs, set models, puppets, props, posters, programs and archives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s