Fed up with being excluded from drinking in public bars just because they were women, in March 1965 Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bogner chained themselves to the bar of the Regatta Hotel, Brisbane in protest.
This act was a defining moment in Australian feminism and resulted in the repeal of section 59A of the Queensland Liquor Act in 1970.
Archival news footage of the protests is essential to the impact of this clip. This footage is a fine example of the importance of local news outlets who capture events that later become important moments in Australia’s history.
It is also powerful to hear comments from Merle herself, as well as her daughter, actress Sigrid Thornton.
Merle was awarded an honorary doctorate for her contribution to Australian society by the University of Queensland in 2020.
This excerpt comes from the Seven News Brisbane special Queensland: Flashback 150 Years, broadcast on 30 May 2009. It was produced for the 150th anniversary of the state of Queensland. Queensland formally separated from New South Wales on 6 June 1859.