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Frank Morris
Frank Morris. 30 May 2024

The Great Aussie Firsts!


Errol Flynn! As they say, the rest is history

Errol Flynn’s lead role as the rambunctious Captain Blood of 1936 is a distinct credit to the young actor who has earned world-wide attention and praise. Flynn and Basil Rathbone, his co-star, will go down in screen history for the many stirring swordfight incidents.

Errol, who was in his early 2Os, was paid 50 pounds to play the role of Fletcher Christian in The Wake of the Bounty, his first film by the director Charles Chauvel; it was he who happened to discover him.  

Flynn found out that he was a descendant of midshipman Young. In real life, Young was a pal and companion of Christian. Christian was part of the crew of the Bounty mutiny of 1789. Flynn was obviously untrained for the part in the movie.

Main: Errol Flynn - earned world-wide attention and praise.

At a studio at Cinesound the boss said he was “quite appalling”. Flynn said he put his heart and soul into his performance. He added, “They got the very best of  what he could offer at the time.” 

Flynn was paid three pounds for making a personal appearance at the cinema where the Wake of the Bounty was being screened. But he wanted to live as an actor. In 1933, he went to England where he a got a part in Murder at Monte Carlo and several other movies, including Robin Hood, Sea Hawk and They Died With Their Boots On.

And, as they say, the rest is history. - FM.


The Surf, the first weekly magazine devoted to beach culture and surf.

The Surf newspaper

The Surf was produced on December 1, 1917. It was the “world’s first surfing newspaper”. The editor was Con Drew. After 20 issues, it folded on April 27, 1918. When asked why it closed, a spokesperson said.

“Because of the war,” came the reply. The Surf provided some fascinating insights into the social history of lifesavers during the last years of the Great War.

A unique and detailed weekly, The Surf was possibly one of the only journals or newspapers in the globe to mainly concentrate  on surf-riding and beach activities.

“It must be remembered that before the “surfing sixties” there was very little in the way of youth … magazines that were to be come immensely popular,” said John Ogden, author of Saltwater People. - FM.


Off to Vietnam

April 29, 1962 - the year that Australia would become involved in the Vietnam war. The Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, said: The Government has no desire to have Australian forces in Vietnam any longer than necessary.” But as the US escalated in involvement so did Australia’s commitment increase. Over 60,000 Australians including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam. - FM.


Opera House: Paul Robeson, first singer

American baritone, Paul Robeson, climbed on to a concrete foundation - one of many - of the new Opera House in 1960.

Robeson sang his favourite melody, Ol’ Man River and the foundation he chose was going to become the Concert Hall stage. In attendance were over 100 workers, who stood on steel girders, passers-by and visitors.


Where the Danish architect dreamed!

In October, 1973, when the Sydney Cup was run, the Queen was officially opening the Sydney Opera House. That’s over 50 years ago.

In 1957, a 38-year-old Danish architect, Joern Utzon, won first prize in an international contest for an opera house to be built on the site of a disused tram shed at Bennelong Point, on Sydney Harbour. 

The idea was advanced by the Labour Government under the then Premier J.J. Cahill. Mr Utzon’s design, chosen from 233 entries from 32 countries, was revolutionary and broke all the competition’s rules.

The initial cost of the project, to be built of Sydney sandstone, was estimated at 3.5 million pounds. Work began in 1959 and cost had risen to $10 million. When it opened in October 1973, the cost had exploded to $102 million. However, the latest cost was still climbing. - FM.


Paula Stafford surrounded by models wears her bikini, 1981-2 style. Her success was sealed. She’s been making bikinis since 1952.

The demure bikini - ban it!

Paula Stafford, headline designer of the Australian brief two piece swimwear in her summer collection learnt a new word in the rag trade. "I learned to call them bikinis. It seemed to be a good marketing idea." Stafford hit Australian beaches like a bombshell. The bikini was a French creation designed in 1946 by Frenchman Louis Réard. Stafford, a popular and controversial swimwear designer, put the Gold Coast, Queensland, well and truly on the map. "I never paid for publicity, the media came to me; It was quite incredible." Stafford  died in 2022 at 102.

Paul Robeson “first” singer at the Opera House 

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