Darshil Shah
The 1960s was a period of change for Australia. The ethnic diversity produced by post-war immigration, the United Kingdom’s increasing focus on Europe, and the Vietnam War (to which Australia sent troops) all contributed to an atmosphere of political, economic and social change.

During the 1960s fashion changed more dramatically than in any other decade of the twentieth century. From the simple, feminine and traditional styles of the early 1960s to “Mod” fashions like miniskirts and hot pants, to the wild, daring, ‘anything goes’ mentality that existed by the end of the decade, clothing in the 1960s reflected a new movement towards comfort, youthful independence and rebellion. The major influences on fashion in the early 1960s came from London, which became the staring point of the socalled ‘Swinging Sixties’. ‘Mod’ Fashion started in London and slowly spread across the world. “Mod’ Fashion also reached Australia from America as the increased amounts of people adopting this new fashion technique due to the president’s wife (Jacqueline Kennedy). The Beatles also influenced the ever growing styles of the 60s as their wild and long hair was seen as independence in the youth. One other main development in fashion which shocked the whole world and at the same time changed it was the mini skirt. This is believed to be the biggest shock in the 1960’s as throughout the whole world, this was against any tradition, and now the independence for women started. In England, this was made popular by fashion designers, however in Australia, this being worn on the Melbourne cup made it a shock but nonetheless the start for popularity of the mini skirt. One of the last highlights of the 60’s era was flower power. It was characterised by the increasing “hippie” and folk movement which inspired many new colours, flamboyant styles and simple clothes to characterise the protest and freedom.


Pop music at the beginning of the 1960s had settled down from the early rebellion of rock and roll. This can be seen in USA censorship of “real” music. The artists were often manufactured, as they were carefully chosen and presented by record companies in order to stop outrages and rebellion in music. In the early 1960s folk music became extremely popular. Artists such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez sang songs about the need for social change—and the words in the songs were as important as the beat or the music. Unlike most rock and pop music, this was not music to dance to but music to listen to. Rock musicians began to move away from simple lyrics and could use their songs to reflect the issues of the time and the attitudes towards them.

Motown and soul also gained popularity as the record label introduced by Berry Gordy. The reason it gained popularity was due to African American artists singing about things both whites and blacks can relate to. The British music scene was vast and the music was being spread all across the world. British music was the most influential music all around the world, and mainly started the hysteria of mainstream rock music and the craze over it. With the Beatles as an inspiration, the Rolling Stones were made popular by singing a Beatles song. They were the alternative version to the Beatles. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones led the way for British bands to dominate pop music. They took rock and roll back to the USA. This became known as the ‘British invasion’ of the music scene. When the Beatles arrived at Australia, there was a crowd so big, that the Beatles themselves could not hear themselves. This was the beginning of the Australian mainstream rock scene, where everyone was crazy over The Beatles and other artists. The next major influence on rock music of the 1960s came from the east coast of the USA. Surf music, played by bands such as the Beach Boys, was a new style that became popular. Also, the use of drugs for recreational purposes was coming from Professor Timothy (San Francisco) Leary who suggest to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Australia was also affected as this became the common thing to do if you wanted to have fun. Inspired by traditional outdoor folk and jazz festivals as well as hippie ‘be ins’ and ‘happenings’, rock festivals became a symbol of this new culture. Thousands of people would come to enjoy the music. Australia had many of these festivals which attracted people to have fun and be free and hope for a more peaceful world.

In the early 1960s, Australians mainly watched American shows such as Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke and British programs such as Coronation Street and Doctor Who. The best known Australian TV star of the time was Graeme Kennedy, who hosted a show called In Melbourne Tonight with his ‘sidekick’ Bert Newton. Improvements in technology meant that more Australian prime time programs were being made. The two most successful were the police drama Homicide and the comedy The Mavis Bramston Show. As the popularity of television led to a decrease in movie audiences, movies became reliant on developing technology that was superior to that of television and would attract audiences out of their lounge rooms. Big budget ‘epic’ films were popular. The epic Ben Hur screened in Australia in 1960 in lavish technicolour. Australians did not simply watch TV and movies. The first Adelaide Arts festival was held in 1960 and more Australians went to the theatre, ballet and opera than in the past.

In the 1960s Australians enjoyed international sporting successes that seemed out of proportion to the size of our population. The 1960s were a golden age for Australian tennis. Australians dominated the Davis Cup (winning it seven times) and Wimbledon (winning the

men’s singles title eight times, and the men’s doubles title seven t imes). Rod Laver was one of the greatest male tennis players in the history of the game, winning the first-ever Grand Slam. Dawn Fraser also dominated the swimming sport and won eight Olympic medals. There was also success in athletics such as the 1500m race at the Rome Olympics and many other achievements that put Australia at a very high position at that time. This bought recognition to the world that Australia is a capable nation and the respect grew higher and higher. The sporting success attracted many people to play sports and try and acquire the same success as their equivalent role models. Many Australian sports were played such as lawn balls, netball and rugby, but many sports from USA were popularised such as 10 pin Bowling. Soccer was a very popular game at that time due to the overgrowing support for it. Although we were a sporty country, the majority of Australians watched sports rather than play them, and smoking related diseases were higher than England. But, in the 60’s, health food was introduced and people started realising how to be healthy and how to live healthy. However, the opening of fast food chains and frozen chips didn’t help the Australian public to boost their diet and stay in shape.

Main Influences of USA and Britain on Australian Pop Culture
Britain is where this all started, the music, the fashion and nonetheless the culture changing era. Those ideas quickly spread all across the world, most importantly Australia. Australia did have its some of its own ideas put into the popular culture, but the music and fashion was heavily influenced by Britain and USA.

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