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Memento : Issue 31
26 NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA Summers Past Walking on hot sand at the beach, or going to the pool to escape the sweltering heat, listening to the summer test matches on the radio, hearing the icecream van playing Greensleeves – all these things are an integral part of summer in Australia. Those long and hot days may only be a distant memory for some, but their spirit lives on in the photographs of the latest National Archives touring exhibition – Summers Past: Golden Days in the Sun 1950–70. The photographs in Summers Past are a vivid reminder of Australia’s enduring love affair with the sun and the sea. Taken by government photographers, the photos were seldom set up, but simply snapped to record the moment. As a result, they are a colourful record of a way of life in Australia. For those who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, the photographs in this National Archives touring exhibition should gently stir memories of childhood and idyllic summers. Almost all the images were selected from the Archives’ Australian News and Information Bureau collection. This vast archival resource is the legacy of nearly half a century’s work by Bureau photographers who reeled off hundreds of thousands of candid snaps of Australians at work and play, in order to promote Australia overseas. The ‘lucky country’ they saw through the lens in the 1950s and 1960s was a more innocent Australia – a relaxed and comfortable place where everyone knew their neighbours, happily tended their gardens and seldom locked their doors. Every year, from mid-December, people converged on coastal towns, booking into budget motels, renting cottages, bunking down in caravan parks or staying with friends. And for at least half the population, it was almost compulsory to watch or listen to the cricket and to keep an eye on the tennis. All in all, summers in those Robert Menzies and Jack Davey years seemed close to perfect – an era the baby boomers now fondly remember as the ‘good old days’. Summers Past will be on display in Canberra until 23 July 2006. It is planned that it will tour nationally. NAA:A1500,K14201