Fascinating series of articles in the Magazine of The Weekend Australian today.
In 1968, the counter-cultural revolution finally hit home. Richard Guilliatt asks a group of Australians on the frontline to recall how their world was changed.
As 1968 dawned in Australia, the Liberal Party was about to enter its third decade of political power and Johnny Farnham’s chirrupy ode to domestic help, Sadie the Cleaning Lady was topping the pop charts. By the end of the year, Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy were dead, riots had torn apart Paris and Chicago, Russia had invaded Czechoslovakia and the Tet Offensive had devastated the US war effort in Vietnam,
For Australians, who absorbed these tumultuous events via the grainy, black-and-white TV images and crackling radio news bulletins, it was a year of confusion and contradictions. The hippie utopianism of the Summer of Love had barely taken root here in 1968; LSD was hard to come by outside Sydney, and the first psychedelic “happenings” were only just being staged. Conscription was beginning to galvanise the anti-war movement, and the jailing of draft resister John Zarb sparked street marches through Melbourne, but the massive Vietnam moratorium marches were still years away.
In a way that was quite distinct from Britain or the US, 1968 was the year the Sixties finally hit Australia, as the counter-culture’s most idealised hopes and worst fears came crashing through at the same time. Here seven Australians remember what those days were like…