The Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games was one of the most significant events in Australia’s sporting history. It was the first time Australia hosted the Olympics, the first time the Olympic Games were held in the Southern Hemisphere and the first games to be broadcast live on television.
The Melbourne Olympics also heralded the arrival of Australia as a real sporting force at the Olympics - with 291 athletes competing for Australia, it was the largest team ever. Stars such as swimmers Dawn Fraser and Murray Rose and sprinters Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland helped Australia to win 13 gold medals, 8 silver medals and 14 bronze medals, placing Australia in third position on the medal table behind the Soviet Union and the United States.
Despite the international tensions of the time, 1956, or perhaps because of them, an Australian teenager came up with a new idea for the closing ceremony. Instead of the teams marching behind their national flags, athletes from the 72 participating countries walked around the arena together, uniting athletes from around the world - a tradition which has continued ever since.