Melbourne Olympics, 1956

Conducted against the backdrop of the Suez crisis and the Hungarian Revolution, the Melbourne Olympics began in October 1956.

The Games were centred around the Melbourne Cricket Ground and in terms of gold medals, were one of the most successful ever for Australian athletes.

Competitors such as Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland, Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser dominated their events and television, introduced in Australia in time to broadcast the events, made sure their success became part of Australian sporting history.

Fact Sheet 57 - National Archives of Australia

Record holdings

Files held by the Archives though, tend not to deal with athletic successes. The majority are administrative records created by the Prime Minister's Department, which was responsible for coordinating the Commonwealth government's role in the organisation of the Games. The bulk of these records are on our RecordSearch database, which can be accessed in any of our reading rooms, but some selected items are described below.

Examples of Prime Minister's Department and Cabinet Office records

Title or description of records | Date | Series & item no.

Olympic Games – Commonwealth financial contribution
A463, 1956/1418 Parts 1 & 2

Olympic Games – Film and television rights
A463, 1956/1040

Olympic Games – Publicity
A463, 1956/1247

Olympic Games – Melbourne's preparations and program
A463, 1956/1379

Olympic Games 1956 – Financial assistance policy
A4940, C423

Construction of Olympic Village – Commonwealth finance
A4940, C682

Proposal for issue of Olympic Games commemorative coin
A4940, C1574

Security records

Due to the nature of contemporary world events and the general political climate of the time, a number of files concerning the Games were created by Australia's security organisations, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Commonwealth Investigation Service. These include the following records.

Title or description of records | Date | Series & item no.

Soviet and Eastern Bloc Olympic teams – Germany Volume 1
A6122, 1249

Soviet and Eastern Bloc Olympic teams – Hungary Volumes 1 & 2
A6122, 1251 & 1252

Soviet and Eastern Bloc Olympic teams – Russia Volume 1
A6122, 1256

Visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to Australia 1956 – vetting file
A1533, 1956/1518C

Allegations of counterfeit United States currency in Melbourne for issue at Olympic Games
A1533, 1956/3465

External Affairs records

The Department of External Affairs was also involved in the arrangements for the Games. The Soviet Union had not had diplomatic representation in Australia for several years, but the Department sought to have this policy revoked for the duration of the Olympics. The Department was also involved when the Hungarian team applied for political asylum.

Title or description of records | Date | Series & item no.

Consular representatives in Australia – USSR – Re two consular officers for Melbourne Olympic Games
A1838, 1515/1/58/1

Olympic Games – policy – general
A1838, 1603/1 Part 1

Political asylum – Hungarian Olympic Team in Melbourne
A1838, 1606/4

Records of Olympic organising committees

Numerous records created by the various committees of the Organising Committee of the 16th Olympiad are also held by the Archives. These records are held within series AA1967/379, and are all listed on RecordSearch. Amongst these records are papers of the following committees:


Use the Archives' PhotoSearch database, available on our website at to locate photographs of the Melbourne Olympics taken by the former Australian news and Information Bureau (ANIB). Relevant ANIB correspondence files are also held in series A6895. Some examples of items are listed in the table below.

Sound recordings. Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) audio recordings of key events from the Olympics are also held. Some examples are listed below.

Title or description of records Date Series & item no.
Files about photographs and film
Olympic Games film


A6895, N56/173

Olympic Games – Olympic News Release
A6895, N56/182

Olympic Games – tourism by-products
A6895, N56/180

Lewis Luxton Olympic Games – TV
A6895, N56/176 Part 1

Sound recordings
Swimming final 100m women's freestyle 1956 Olympics, won by Dawn Fraser [audio recording]


C100, 78/7/133*

Final 100m women's sprint 1956 Olympics, won by Betty Cuthbert [audio recording]
C100, 78/7/141*

* located in Sydney

Viewing the records

All records referred to in this fact sheet are available to the public in our reading room in Canberra, except those marked with an asterisk (*), which are located in Sydney.

Melbourne Olympics, 1956  Melbourne Victoria 3000 | View Map Link opens new page

Melbourne Link Melbourne Olympics, 1956  Link opens in new browser window

0  LOVE IT    Do You Like This Page? Click here to LIKE..

Link opens new page Page Access > Update | Edit Details | Mobile Friendly Version

Link opens new page Content Access > View Category | Melbourne

Click here to edit / update this page

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Instagram
Melbourne What's On In Nov 2015 >

Monster Fest 2015
View Monster Fest 2015
4 days and nights of the latest, greatest and rarest cult and horror cinema on the planet! World Premieres, new features, new ...

The Process
View The Process
A razor-sharp political satire, which mercilessly dissects the immigration policies of both parties, and depicts with humour and ...

The Bad Money | Outdoor Interactive Theatre Show
View The Bad Money | Outdoor Interactive Theatre Show
"THE BAD MONEY" Limited shows remaining in 2015 See the website for our daytime ...

At The Hop - 1950's Rock & Roll Show
View At The Hop - 1950's Rock & Roll Show
Step back into the 50’s, as the “At The Hop’s” performers croon, swoon and buffoon their way to bring you those “Made in the ...

Melbourne's Exclusive Magic Show
View Melbourne's Exclusive Magic Show
Witness Impossible Occurrences, one of Melbourne's most exclusive attractions. Award winning magician Luke Hocking intrigues ...

Check Out
The Age Good Food Month 2015
View The Age Good Food Month 2015
The Age Good Food Month presented by Citi November 1 - 30, 2015 The Age Good Food Month presented by Citi returns in 2015 with a showcase of the best that | Read On..

Santa's Christmas Spectacular - Sandown
View Santa's Christmas Spectacular - Sandown
One Big Giant Christmas Party ! Santa’s Christmas Spectacular is an exciting family spectacular event! See Santa’s Christmas Elves, visit Santa’s stables | Read On..

What's Hot

Our Pick
Angus O'Callagahan: Melbourne | Book Launch
View Angus O'Callagahan: Melbourne | Book Launch
Reader's Feast Books Melbourne (1968-71) Join us in-store on 2 December for the official book launch A book to treasure Who doesn't love a bit of retro? Stunning pics of @Melbourne ...

Top 10 Web Sites About MELBOURNE
View Top 10 Web Sites About MELBOURNE
It's All About Melbourne Melburnians must be the luckiest people on earth. Not only do we get to live in the world's most liveable city but we also enjoy some of the most interesting web sites in ...

Stay in touch | Get our newsletter every Tuesday