Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Melbourne, the Olympic City
With the upcoming Olympic Games in London, it is interesting to reflect on the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Melbournians, indeed Australians, regarded hosting the games as an opportunity to appear as a major nation on the world stage. Between November 22 and December 8, 1956, more than 2 million people attended the events. Melbourne was decorated and filled with visitors representing sixty-seven nations. To add to the celebrations, a number of local businesses produced leaflets and pamphlets showcasing Melbourne: many Australians considered the Games as a sign of our "coming of age".
The RHSV holds an interesting collection of ephemera which includes some brochures from the Melbourne Olympics. Melbourne, the Olympic City is a map for visitors which highlights the attractions of the city: Flinders Street Railway Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Public Library and a number of other buildings. The Souvenir Programme Olympic Games priced at one shilling, details the members of the Olympic Committee, gives the prices of admission tickets and sets out the Games programme and venues.
After the games, a 1956 Olympic Games Results and Records brochure was produced. With 13 gold medals, Australia's tally was the highest it had yet scored. Betty Cuthbert, Murray Rose, Shirley Strickland and the members of the Athletics and Swimming relay teams became heroes to school children and adults alike. Older Australians may remember attending newly completed Olympic venues. Significant for many was the advent of television, which broadcasted many of the events, whilst all over the country others were "glued to the radio".