Rare video: Opening of the Chinchilla Swimming pool, 1962

The Chinchilla Swimming pool opened on October 13, 1962. This 8mm footage was shot on the day by my dad, with his brand new standard-8 movie camera. Not many people had home movie cameras back then, so this may be the only colour footage of the event that still exists.

In 2022 the pool and the swimming club are celebrating the 60th anniversary. If you were present on the opening day, it’s quite a shock to remember a very different world.

A few days after the pool opened, the Cuban Missile Crisis began. This was a huge standoff between the USA and the USSR, with the threat of a global nuclear war. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but everyone everywhere was worried, even in a small town like Chinchilla…

During the crisis most people relied on the radio or newspapers to find out what was happening. Hardly anyone had a TV set. In 1962 Black & White TV transmissions had only just began on Queensland’s Darling Downs, thanks to the advent of the Toowoomba-based DDQ-10. (Which eventually became part of what is now WIN-TV).

TV sets were so new and so expensive that people used to line up at night to watch them through the shop windows… Can you believe this was just 60 years ago?

A few days before the pool opened the Beatles released their very first single “Love Me Do”, but it wasn’t played on Australian radio until 1963 – and even then you couldn’t buy the record until 1964!

1962 was also the year that:

  • Rod Laver won his second tennis Grand Slam – winning all four major singles tennis championships in the same year. No other player has ever done so.
  • The yacht Gretel made Australia’s first challenge for the America’s Cup, losing 4–1 to the American opponent Weatherly
  • The U.S. spacecraft Mariner 2 flew past by Venus, becoming the first probe to successfully transmit data from another planet. (In 2022 NASA has a helicopter flying on Mars!)

1962 was also the year Australia sent a small commitment of 30 military advisors to South Vietnam. (This deployment was the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the war in Vietnam)

But if you can imagine yourself as one of the people present at the opening of the Chinchilla Swimming pool – think of what 60 years before that day was for them. That would be the year 1902 – long before the 1st and 2nd World Wars!

in 1902

  • Brisbane was declared a city.
  • submarine telegraph cable connected Southport, Queensland to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, completing a worldwide communications line for the British Empire
  • Breaker Morant was executed in South Africa. The Boer war ended
  • Australian women were given the right to vote and stand for election to Australia’s federal parliament, (unless they were “aboriginal natives” of Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands)!

We’ve come a long way in the 120 years since 1902…What will the world be like in another 60 years? When the people of 2082 look back to now – what will they think of us?

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