Popular culture 1945 – present

Developments in Australian popular music


This section of the program seeks to understand how the major popular cultures of music, film and television have changed in Australia in the period since the 1970s. This section examines music.

Inquiry question How did Australian music change in this period?
Content focus The changing nature of the music industry in Australia.
  • Identify the origin, purpose and context of primary and secondary sources
  • 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
  • Select and use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies.


Top 20 charts from Everybody's magazine, 16 March 1966.
How useful are such charts as primary sources?
  • Investigate early influences. Surf music originated in California, but because of climate and culture it became very popular
    in Australia. Read the stories of two
    significant Australian bands:
    1. The Atlantics The Atlantics achieved enormous success with their hit single 'Bombora'. Have students research its international impact.
    2. The Echomen  The story of The Echomen is closely linked to the emergence of Indigenous Australian popular music. Discuss why Johnny Forrester has never been recognised
      as an Australian surf music pioneer.
  • Time comparison:
    The Beach Boys tours 1964 and 2012.
    The Beach Boys – live on Ready, Steady, Go! shows the band in a 1964 performance.
    The Beach Boys, Sydney 2012 shows the band in a 2012 performance.
    Use the clips as primary source material and have the students analyse them to identify continuities and changes. Have them consider: the music, instruments used, content of songs and the nature and reaction of the audience.
  • Discuss the role of the media in expanding the impact of rock 'n' roll using:
    The role of the media in expanding the impact of rock 'n' roll (PDF, 90 KB) Top 20 charts from Everybody's magazine March 16, 1966 (PDF, 218 KB)