Skippy and colour TV

at Monaro Mall, 1969
 Bronwyn Barnett

In 1963 a shopping revolution hit Canberra. Three levels of boutique and department stores, all fully enclosed and air conditioned: the shopping mall had arrived in Canberra!

Prime Minister Robert Menzies described Monaro Mall as ‘…wonderful, immoral, tempting and terribly satisfactory’ in his speech at the opening on 6 March 1963. An estimated 15,000 Canberrans flocked to the mall on the first day alone and it became an integral part of the nation’s capital as the city grew rapidly throughout the 1960s.

Skippy at Monaro Mall

Apart from the shopping, Monaro Mall provided a space for charities, community and arts groups, as well as visiting celebrities…

Courtesy of Southern Cross Austereo. NFSA: 676800

Note: This clip has no sound.

In 1968 a furry kangaroo named Skippy made her debut on Australian television and, by 1969, was a much-loved Australian and international star. She visited Canberra on 4 September 1969 with her handler Scott Denholm and crowds lined the streets around Monaro Mall to see her arrive on the back of a Freebodys Toyota Ute (‘Be like Skippy – jump into a Toyota’). Those lucky enough to find a place inside the mall were treated to a question and answer session with Denholm and CTC 7 newsreader Brian Smith. Skippy had attracted a crowd of around 20,000, one of the largest crowds ever in Canberra to that date; a rather successful promotion for Waltons, Freebodys Motors and CTC 7.

Monaro Mall debuts colour TV

Also at Monaro Mall at this time was a display giving shoppers an insight into the work of the [p[Film Australia Collection]] and the Australian News and Information Bureau and their upcoming involvement in Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan.

Courtesy of Southern Cross Austereo. NFSA: 676800

Note: This clip has no sound.

This exhibition also provided Canberrans the opportunity to see colour television for the first time. It would be another six years before colour television came to Australia (see [p[Regional television: from colour to digital]]). Part of the display was a simulated television transmission of Commonwealth Film Unit films. These films were made about Australia for overseas audiences and were broadcast on television in Britain, Europe, United States of America and Asia.

This news story was on a CTC-TV 16mm film compilation reel with other news stories from 2–5 September 1969. Sadly the news bulletins in which these stories were broadcast do not survive.


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