Reflecting on the ’60s

Those Were The Days: Australia in the Sixties

Ron and Elizabeth Morrison

Exisle Press,  $39.99

RON Morrison’s eye for a great photograph meets, in this book, nostalgia for the legendary decade of the 1960s.

Those Were the Days is a bright, intelligent pictorial survey of Australia as it was before man had walked on the moon, when the music of the Beatles was new and revolutionary and when Aussie troops were fighting – all the way with LBJ – in Vietnam.

The book was possible because Ron and wordsmith colleague Alan Farrelly had covered many miles together in the 1960s, documenting change and growth in an exciting period of Australian history.

Together the pair assembled a string of books, with Ron returning home to Newcastle with huge numbers of negatives – both coloured and black and white.

For years most of those negatives lay in storage, until the time arrived when Morrison and his writer wife, Elizabeth, suddenly decided the world was ready for a second, more reflective look.

In fact, that time was 2009, when the Morrisons moved house, bringing their negative collection into the open once again. 

‘‘They were still in excellent condition and when we examined them, with some delight we realised they formed a kaleidoscopic image of the ’60s ,’’ Liz Morrison writes.

Indeed they do.

The book is packed with scores of engaging images, spanning the continent in all its moods and capturing the essence of the nation and its people as they were, half a century ago.

The book has broad appeal, but Newcastle people will find special reason to treasure it, since many of the photographs are recognisably Novocastrian.

Some Hunter photos aren’t labelled as such, but locals  may recognise themselves anyway. On page 132, for example, the pensive university students are pictured in a Newcastle lecture theatre. 

Liz Morrison’s text is lively, brisk and informative, adding value to Ron’s lovely images and helping readers comprehend the context of a decade much romanticised but perhaps not often really well understood.