In Drinking culture. Now & Then by Clyde Mooney

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On 2 February, 1955, New South Wales enjoyed its first day of ‘late’ trading in hotels since 1916.

The Herald reported “brisk” trade during the new trading hours up to 10pm, and a grateful, diverse demographic of patrons enjoying the opportunity for hospitality in the evening.

The Newport Hotel – aka the Newport Arms, and now simply The Newport – saw a crowd of nearly 5,000 arrive for its free steaks and performance by an orchestra.

Theatregoers in the city were able to enjoy an adult beverage during intermission, and there was said to be a “carnival air” in the Kings Cross entertainment district.

“Large numbers of women accompanied men at suburban bars and beer gardens,” the paper described.

In 1955, Australia joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO), commissioned the infamous HMAS Melbourne, re-elected conservative Prime Minister Robert Menzies, took control of the Cocos Islands from the British, and expanded its social understanding of a multi-cultural night-time economy.

Fifty years on, our role in the Pacific is both strengthened by the Trans-Pacific Partnership and strained due to our relationship with China, a conservative government appears set to regain office on a platform of fear-mongering, and our international reputation is in question over the handling of humanitarian issues.

As we look to globalisation to perpetuate the tourism golden ticket and fill the hole made by the mining boom’s collapse, there may never be a better time to properly consider the value and opportunity of free trade in entertainment and leisure sectors.

Circa 1952-58

Circa 1952-58