Popular culture 1945 – present

The impact of rock 'n' roll


It is important to recognise that the years following World War II saw the start of a period of major social change in Australia. Two aspects of popular culture, rock 'n' roll and television, emerged at this time and were to prove long lasting in their impact. This series of lessons seeks to enable students to explore the impact of popular culture on Australian society from the 1950s.

Inquiry question How was Australian society affected by significant global events and changes in this period?
Content focus Developments in popular culture in post-war Australia and their impact on society, including the introduction of television and rock 'n' roll.
  • Process and synthesise information from a range of sources for use as evidence in an historical argument
  • Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of primary and secondary sources
  • Identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past
  • Identify and analyse different historical interpretations (including their own)
  • Develop texts, particularly descriptions and discussions that use evidence from a range of sources that are referenced.


A copy of the Young family's application for assisted passage as migrants from Scotland to Australia, held in the National Archives. Of the three children listed on the application, George formed The Easybeats, while his younger brothers Malcolm and Angus formed AC/DC.
  • What was Australia's first rock 'n' roll record? (PDF. 121 KB) will allow students to become historians as they work through a range of resources to investigate this question and come to a conclusion based
    on evidence.
  • How did Australians react to the arrival of rock 'n' roll? (PDF. 159 KB) gives students the opportunity to explore competing perspectives on this question.
  • Australian music's hidden history
    (PDF. 110 KB) gives students the
    opportunity to explore the often overlooked contribution of Indigenous Australians to
    our musical popular culture.
  • What impact did The Beatles have on Australia? The Beatles arrive (PDF. 95 KB) will allow students to create an exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles tour of Australia.
  • Case study: The Easybeats (PDF. 94 KB)
    is an opportunity for students to utilise
    a range of digital presentation tools in arguing the case for the induction of The Easybeats into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.