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The Historical Observations of Garry Albert Robert Taylor. Written by. Garry Albert Robert Taylor. 1956 Olympics.The City chosen was Melbourne, the very first city in the Southern Hemisphere. Excitement was brewing, like a witches cauldron, it was coming slowly to the boil. Just a few more ingredients to be added at the last minute. And just like the witches cauldron, Melbourne was nearly ready.
Builders from all companies all over Australia had been chosen for the contract, and so naturally, builders from the companies all over Australia were transported to Melbourne. My job with my building mates was to help with roofing the houses at West Hidelberg Melbourne Victoria the official site for the athletes olympic village to be built.
By the time I got there, the houses and the infrastructure had already been built and laid out, most houses were finished apart from the roofing, and like the rest of the Australian building employees, I and many others left our wives at home, got paid a heap of money, and when I say a heap of money, we were paid triple and a half the usual pay rate even for the most senior builders, and the job was ours.
In those days, there were few secrets, everybody in Melbourne knew exactly where the olympic village was going to be, and many upon many a tourist was seen visiting unfinished houses, mapping out the new roads, surveying the place, and the media around were over excited to say the least.
Television was coming to Australia and there was going to be coverage, although limited coverage, and black and white coverage of the olympics and what was more, the famous MCG Melbourne Cricket Ground would become a ground of events of immortality.
And that is exactly what happened. Who would ever forget the famous and or infamous opening ceremony. 116000 people packed the ground the second highest crowd the MCG has ever held to witness Ron Clarke being burnt by the olympic flame, and yet Clarke still competed. Channel 7 and the ABC did a joint coverage although in truth it was the channel 7 coverage which most people watched, not that anyone in the actual television industry had any official television ratings system to go by.
And Melbourne saw it all with the exception of the equestrian events, horses couldn't be flown to Australia, there were few vaccinations, the federal government along with Australian horse owners were scared, so the equestrian events were held in Stockholm.
And what a significant and truly historical event this was. We saw Dawn Fraser, Betty Cufbert, Margerie Jackson, and the famous and or infamous water polo final between the U.S.S.R. and Hungaria.
And Melbourne prospered. The tourists came by the thousands, the older war immigrants came to cheer on Australia, but also cheered on their own original countries, crowds were higher than all previous olympics, and absolutely everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
People met, reunions were made, people married, the baby boom continued unabated, the house prices were low and so were the interest rates, and most people thought Menzies would be Australian Prime MInister forever, and this position was only strengthened by the labor party falling to pieces over the Catholics within the party splitting and forming what would only be remembered as the most disastrous political split in Australian history, well, unless you count 1975.
And with television finally coming to Australia, people found all sorts of interesting and novel ways of making money out of anything and everything, yes, the olympic games included, and people were rushing the stores left right and centre, and the stores were finding it almost impossible to keep up with the unexpected and yet overwhelming demand.
And of course, it is needless to say, our wives and our children of the builders and layers of the roads etc were not left unrewarded. With the exceptions of the opening and closing ceremonies, we got the very best choices of all other tickets, and you can bet your lives on it, we queued up and took up the full advantages of any and every single ticket we were allowed to have for events, even for events we were not interested and or totally familiar with.
And those of us who had never been to Melbourne and or who had possibly never heard of it, realised this city had huge potential. Sadly, in my particular case, I had to wait another 4 years, due to contracts and a brief illness of both myself and my wife before we finally took advantage of Melbourne and its then wonderful and modern infrastructure.
In truth, we were sad to leave the place, and yet, leave the place we did, and in my case, I returned to Sydney, my marriage never happier and or brighter, if only, there was now a child to share this happiness with.
But not to be a couple of people who wanted to live in total unhappiness, my wife and I returned to Sydney, well and truly paid off our very first house, in my case, completed the rest of the contract work, and after our illnesses were over, we left Sydney because like many others, we believed Melbourne would be a far better place especially if and when our first child was finally born.
And so it is then, that although you may find this account of this event to be rather brief, nobody who witnessed it could ever deny this event was and is and will always remain an event of true historical significance. Indeed, the 1956 olympics should be remembered not only for its own events and for the events of the first ever multi sports television broadcast to come out of the Southern hemisphere, but the year which left Melbourne with the deserved status of the most modern city of all the world, and when I say to you all the world, I am comparing the city with the most modern cities of the day and timing of the 1956 olympic games.
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