Back view of a female athlete standing on the running track.

Australia's Commonwealth Games

Australia's Commonwealth Games

Highlights from Games held in Australia
 Adam Blackshaw

Our Commonwealth Games curated collection features highlights from previous Games held in Australia up to and including Melbourne in 2006.

Australia has hosted the most Games: Sydney in 1938 (the first to be staged in the southern hemisphere), Perth (1962), Brisbane (1982), Melbourne (2006) and the Gold Coast (2018).

At the time of writing, Australia is also the most successful nation, having won the most medals in the history of the event.

Dashing Dess

Despite sometimes being seen as second to the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games has witnessed many great moments, including the famous 'Miracle Mile' in 1954 when both England’s Roger Bannister and Australia's John Landy broke the magical four-minute mile. But even before then, the Games saw extraordinary performances from athletes such as Australia's Decima Norman who won five gold medals at the 1938 Games held in Sydney.

As can be seen in this clip of Decima winning the 110 yards sprint, her running style was unorthodox but clearly effective:

Decima Norman winning the 110 yard sprint and slow motion of her running style, 1938. Courtesy Cinesound Movietone Productions. NFSA title:28223. Please note: this clip is silent.

Hot competition

Aside from memorable performances by legendary athletes, the Games are also noted for the spectacle of their opening ceremonies. But they have not always gone off without a hitch!

The opening of the 1962 Empire and British Games in Perth took place in blistering 40-degree heat. More than 300 people in the crowd of 53,000 at the Perry Lakes Stadium were treated for heat exhaustion, plus there were a few heart attacks. Children performing in the ceremony started collapsing and soldiers had to ferry water to hydrate those still standing. The temperature barely dropped throughout the competition leading commentators to label the Games 'heat, dust and glory'.

More recently many will fondly remember the Opening Ceremony of the 1982 Games in Brisbane. The start of the ceremony was signalled with a kookaburra call, followed by the familiar Australian cry of 'cooee'. Then 6,500 school children ran into position to create the Australian flag, the Games logo and a map of Australia (minus Tasmania!). But the stand-out was Matilda, the giant kangaroo that toured the stadium and winked cheekily at Prince Philip:

Opening Ceremony of the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. Courtesy TEN Network. NFSA title: 486275.

You can see more highlights from the Games held in Australia in our curated collection.