Headlines in History - the 1960s


  • In 1960 the Advocate increased public interest in building a town library. Despite many rejections from the council since as early as 1947, the Library for Coffs Harbour League was formed.
  • However a town library would not open for another four years.
  • Mrs Margaret McGuire celebrated her 106th birthday in January. After several months of ill health, Mrs McGuire passed away in March.

Moonee Street flooded yet again in 1960 following heavy rain in January. Parts of the Pacific Highway north of the town were 12-18 inches underwater. 

Coffs Harbour locals Cliff Murray and Ron Wood built Australia's first privately owned marine jet. Powered by a Ford V8 engine that drove a de Havilland marine jet engine, a picture of the boat was printed on the front page of the Advocate's February 10 issue.

Sawtell reserve attracted over 4,000 campers and over 6,000 people during the Christmas-New Year period.

The Advocate reported on March 10 that in 16 weeks, 36 accidents had occurred on the highway between Coffs and Woolgoolga.

The newly completed sewage system became available to Coffs Harbour residents in June.

The Allan Taylor Company Sawmill was gutted by fire on October 20. Damage was estimated to be more than 200,000 pounds.

The Park Beach Bowling Club's clubhouse officially opened in November.

Despite floods at the beginning of the year, 1960 proved to be the regions second driest year on record. Rain recorded at the Post Office indicated that total rainfall for the year equalled less than half of 1959's total. 

1961 (pp. 86)

Following the extremely dry conditions of 1960, the beginning of 1961 saw the Coffs Harbour Shire Council appealing for two inch galvanised pipes to connect Sawtell to Coffs Harbour's main water supply, easing the pressure on Sawtell's water crisis.

The Nambucca Motel opened the world's first "boatel” - a motel catering for guests arriving both by car and by boat.

After their Coffs Harbour plant was damaged by fire just a year earlier, fire completely destroyed Allen Taylor and Company's Lowanna sawmill. Damage was estimated to cost 30,000 pounds. 

One of the regions worst storms on record hit the Coffs Coast in February. Hail was said to be "as large as cricket balls”. Park Beach fared the worst of the storm, with the roof of the Park Beach Hotel Motel refusing to hold up, resulting in the public bar and dining room flooding.

1961 proved to be a good year on the sporting field for the Coffs Coast, with the Coffs Harbour Surf Club winning seven out of eight North Coast Branch Championships. The Coffs Harbour Sailing and Power Boat Club held their first competition in March, and local banana growers Peter Brindley and Graham Loader took home the state water ski championships. Meanwhile the new bowling greens at Park Beach Bowling Club were officially opened, bringing 30 teams from around the North Coast to compete.

In May, a landslide on Red Hill cut off Coffs Harbour's water supply, and delaying rail services for several hours.. 

The Advocate recorded a severe dust storm in Upper Orara in September.

The School of Arts building was demolished after closing on October 6. A new Woolworths store was to be built on the site.

W.H. (Harry) Bailey was re-elected Coffs Harbour Shire Council's president in early December. This would be his 15th consecutive term in the position.

1962 (pp. 88)

Coffs Harbour's success in the water continued in 1962. Coffs Harbour Surf Club sent a large contingent of athletes to the State Titles in Manly, after winning the Reg Shanahan Memorial Shield. Meanwhile the Advocate stated "Coffs Harbour water skiers had a field day at the North Coast Championships held at North Beach on Sunday. They won seven of eleven titles.” They later placed in eight events, including two wins, at the State Championships in Scone.

In cricket, the newly formed Diggers team - in their first season - won the premiership.

The Advocate also announced that "In February New South Wales Police Force vehicles were equipped with radios allowing car-to-car and base-to-car communications.”

A severe storm lasting several days hit the region in April, causing damage to banana plantations, dairy farms, and vegetable and fruit crops. Orara received over 29 inches of rain, while over 16 inches was recorded in Coffs. Roads were badly damaged, trees had been brought down, and power and telephone services were disrupted. 

The Coffs Coast did not escape this year without a fire. This time, Sawtell's "Seaview” guest house was destroyed in July.

The new Woolworths store opened in High Street in November. Later than month, E.E. Lahey and Co. Pty. Ltd. became the tenderer of the new Coffs Harbour Civic Centre. Construction of the new facility began in December. 

1963 (pp. 89)

1963 quickly proved to be Coffs Harbour's wettest year on record, after the town received 77.21 inches in the first 129 days of the year. In April the Advocate recorded the heaviest rainfall in Coffs Harbour since their records began in 1917 after 22.45 inches drenched the airport in just 48 hours. 

Construction on the Civic Centre was under way at the beginning of the year. The facility would include a town hall and a highly anticipated town library. The library was set to open the following year, however orders for books were sent in October.

In February, the Advocate announced plans submitted to council to construct a whaling station in Coffs Harbour's south. Despite council approving this in March, however the principals of the proposed station withdrew their proposal.

Bray Street resident Donald McKinnon was awarded the Royal Shipwreck and Humane Society Certificate of Merit. McKinnon, who was just eleven years old, received the award for his actions that saved the life of local businessman Mr Jack Hayes, who had been attacked by a bull.

Coffs Harbour Ski Club continued their local dominance, winning all events at the Northern Rivers Zone Championships in Grafton.

March saw the opening of a new maternity hospital in Coffs Harbour and the town's new Court House - which included a police station, motor registry, and government departments. 

A crowd of over 3,000 locals attended the opening of the Coffs Harbour and District Kart Club Raceway on Easter Sunday.

The District Court moved from Bellingen to Coffs Harbour, with their first session sitting in September.

The connection of Sawtell to Coffs Harbour's water supply was finished in October. 

The new ambulance headquarters in Market Street opened for use in December 16.

1964 (pp. 91)

Construction on sections of the new Civic Hall, including the council chambers, staff offices, and the library was completed early in 1964. Parades, wood chopping competitions, sporting activities, plays and concerts were among the events held at the new facility in the lead up to its official opening on April 11. Minister for Local Government P.D. Hills opened the new facility, and the first council meeting held in the new chambers took place on April 27. 

In cricket, Diggers won their third straight premiership despite Woolgoolga's seventh batsman scoring 106 runs and taking four wickets for four runs off just three overs. Local cyclists Phillip Mackinson and Errol Ellis took the first two places in the junior road championships in Grafton. Later in the year they would place third and fourth in Townsville at the Australian professional road championships. Meanwhile on the home front, horse racing made a successful return to the Coffs Coast in December. 

The Advocate's March 25 issue announced the passing of World War II veteran and Victoria Cross recipient Frank Partridge. Mr Partridge died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash west of Bellingen.

A new vehicle was delivered to the Coffs Harbour Fire Brigade in April, replacing their previous 1928 model vehicle. 

1965 (pp. 92)

1965 saw the long-awaited arrival of television in Coffs Harbour. A studio and administrative complex was built in South Coffs on an area formerly known as White's banana plantation. The transmission aerial was located at Mount Moombil, and broadcasting began on January 23. Shows were on air for an average of 35 hours a week, from 5pm each evening. Years later the first board chairman, Arnold Forsyth, said of the time "it was a wonderful thing for Coffs Harbour - as great an event as the coming of sewerage!”.

On the sporting field, Bucca Creek defeated Coffs Harbour in the district cricket association premiership, after losing the previous four grand finals. The Advocate described the match as "the most exciting and best association final seen in Coffs Harbour in post-war years.” In rugby league, Lower River claimed a 21-5 win over Coffs Harbour in the Group 2 grand final.

The Coffs Harbour Shire Council disconnected the water supply to locals who owed over 12 months worth of rates payments. The decision was made to help combat the 73,000 pounds of unpaid rates in the area.

Councillor A.E. Hannaford took over as Coffs Harbour Shire Council President in September following the passing of Councillor W.H. (Harry) Bailey.

The Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club was approved to take over the building formerly occupied by the Jetty Public Works in October. 

1966 (pp. 94)

The Coffs Coast enjoyed a very successful year on the sporting field in 1966. Coffs Harbour defeated Clarence River to claim the North Coast Cricket Council Towells Memorial Shield. Meanwhile Bucca Creek yet again took home the district cricket association premiership. 

New South Wales Bowling Association President Mr E. Downie officially opened the Sawtell Bowling Club in June.

Also in June, the Advocate detailed the Coffs Harbour Spearfishing and Scuba Club's successful launch.

The 1966-67 cricket season picked up where it left off for Bucca Creek. Swing bowler Merv Jamieson single-handedly dismissed all 10 Colts batsmen in the first innings. Colts scored just 49 runs.

October saw another successful air pageant on the Coffs Coast, with crowds estimated between 9,000 and 11,000.

Coffs Harbour produced more than double the amount of bananas than any other district in the state, with 1,638,902 cases. This figure amounted to just under half of the entire state's total, and was an increase of over 200,000 cases on the Coffs Coast alone.

Coffs Harbour Shire Council President, Councillor A.E. Hannaford, officially opened Brelsford Park's new grandstand and lights.

The Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) opened a Coffs Harbour branch in December covering Hawkesbury and Victoria race meetings.

1967 (pp. 95)

1967 saw student enrolment numbers at Coffs Harbour High School surpass 1,000.

Coffs Harbour fishermen held five state records according to the NSW Amateur Fishing Clubs Association. This was the second highest in the state, behind only the St George - Sutherland club.

Rain cancelled play in the 1966/67 cricket grand finals, with minor premiers Bucca Creek (first grade) and Sawtell (second grade) awarded the premierships.

Construction on the controversial Coffs Harbour Olympic Swimming Pool looked set to begin in 1967. However, the Sawtell and Woolgoolga Progress Associations protested the use of shire monies and loans to pay for the pools construction and maintenance. 

On June 29, the Advocate announced the selling of the Tasma Theatre to Waltons Ltd.; who would re-develop the building to house a retail outlet. The theatre's managing director John Gerard listed the high costs of films and operating costs, as well as land tax and rates, and his reasons for selling.

Three people broke into the Northern Rivers County Council and the Producers Co-operative Distributing Society Ltd. premises, located in High Street, in July. They stole 100,000 cigarettes, a carton of razor blades, and six cartons of spirits.

Recommendations to change the name of the Race Course and Recreation Reserve to E.W. Russell Park were approved and sent to the Land's Department. The reason for the name was change was "in appreciation of the magnificent contribution Mr E.W. Russell has made to the development of the Coffs Harbour race course.”

A $1 million, 76 bed hospital was approved for Coffs Harbour.

Despite shipping significantly less cases than the previous year, the Coffs Coast was the country's highest banana production area for the 12th consecutive year.

The effects of the war once again reached the Coffs Coast when local resident Warrant Officer Second Class B.J. Moore was killed in action in Vietnam. Warrant Officer Moore was survived by his mother, wife, and two children.

1968 (pp. 97)

The Advocate and the wider community were rocked by the sudden death of paper editor Harry Lovett. Hundreds of people attended Mr Lovett's funeral at St John's Anglican Church in Coffs Harbour.

Coffs Harbour water skiers brought home 13 of 46 championship titles from the North Coast championship event held in Taree.

Orara won the district cricket competition grand final against Bucca Creek. Meanwhile in rugby league, despite a strong start to the season defeating Macksville 52-5, Coffs Harbour fell to Smithtown in the grand final, losing 7-4.

The council rejected a proposal to install parking metres in the Coffs Harbour shopping centre in April.

Minister for Health, Mr A.H. Jago officially opened Dorrigo's new Ambulance Station in June.

Snowfalls of up to 3 1/2 inches were recorded in Ebor, Guyra, Glen Innes and surroundings in May.

The Minister for Education and Science hinted at the opening of a second high school in Coffs Harbour while in town for the official opening of a new wing at Coffs Harbour High School in August.

October saw Sawtell's Legacy Aged Widows Home Units being officially opened by New South Wales Governor, Sir Roden Cutler.

The Coffs Coast experienced unusually warm temperatures throughout the last few months of the year. With the region receiving rainfall 21 inches below average, 1968 ended as the driest year on record. Coffs Harbour experienced its hottest day ever recorded on November 19 when the mercury reached 44.4 degrees celsius. 

1969 (pp. 98)

Coffs Harbour High School had a good start to 1969 with all 51 year twelve students from the previous year passing the Higher School Certificate.

Construction of a new post office was underway in January, with the business being temporarily located in Hammon's Arcade in Grafton Street. Works finished ahead of schedule in December.

Jim Evan's barber shop, the Orana Cafe, and Plunkett and Hives real estates, all located in Grafton Street, were gutted by fire. Damage was estimated to be over $10,000.

The new Coffs Harbour Olympic Swimming Pool was under construction. By July, concrete pouring was nearly complete, however a leak found shortly after opening proved troubling for owners, staff and swimmers.

A huge search involving hundreds of local volunteers was sparked in Sawtell when a boy was reported missing after disappearing at the beach in March. The eight-year-old's body was found nearly a week later at Campbell's beach, just north of Coffs Harbour.

Plans for Coffs Harbour's porpoise pool project were announced, with directors hoping for works to finish and the facility to open in time for Christmas.

The Department of Education announced that Coffs Harbour would receive a second high school, with Coffs Harbour High School at capacity. The new school would be built in 1970 and opened in 1971. Meanwhile Narranga Primary School was officially opened in November.

October brought the exciting announcement that Coffs Harbour would host the Royal Family for a portion of their 1970 tour of Australia.

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