‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972 –– 1966


January – Robert Menzies resigns as Australian Prime Minister – Harold Holt takes the reins

January 20 – Francis James (editor of The Anglican) returns home to Sydney after trip to North Vietnam

January 29-30 – National anti-conscription conference (Sydney) convened by YCAC (NSW)

February 2 –Third conscript intake Swan Street Army Depot

February 3 – Bombing of North Vietnam resumes after temporary halt

February – U.S Vice-President Hubert Humphrey visits Australia and meets with Prime Minister Holt. Holt undertakes to despatch a second battalion to Vietnam including a high proportion of conscripts – the first ever Australians to be forced into battle outside Australia’s immediate environs

March 8 – Harold Holt announces trebling of Australia’s military force in South Vietnam. The expanded force will include conscripts by June 1966

March 14 – YCAC sit-down protest disrupts Moomba procession in Swanston Street

March 24 – ‘Week of Vietnam Protest’ in Brisbane. SOS/YCAC demonstration is met with police brutality and marks the beginning of long campaign to alter restrictive sections of the Traffic regulations

March 26 – VDC demonstration at Post Office Place broken up by police violence

March 28 – Liberal Party bi-election rally at Kew Town Hall for Andrew Peacock is disrupted by anti-conscription demonstrators

April 15 – 2500 protestors march to Garden Island Naval Dockyard in largest Sydney demonstration yet against Vietnam war and conscription

April 20 – First batch of Australian ‘national servicemen’ to leave for Vietnam fly out of Sydney

May 11 – Holt Government attempts to cajole Australian civilian seamen to undertake delivery of war materials to Vietnam war zone on merchant ship Boonaroo

May – Private Errol Wayne Noack (of South Australia) becomes first Australian conscript to be killed in Vietnam

May 22 – 2100 people attend Victorian ALP Vietnam/conscription protest rally in Princess Theatre Spring Street

May – Federal Parliamentary Labor Party endorses foreign policy manifesto opposing Australian troop presence in Vietnam

May 25 – YCAC vigil outside Prime Minister Holt’s home in Toorak

May 26Boonaroo sails for Vietnam manned by merchant seamen members of Seamen’s Union under strong protest

May 28 – VDC public rally Post Office Square observes one-minute silence for Errol Noack

June 8 – Nadine Jensen smears red paint over Colonel Preece as Australian Vietnam veterans march in Sydney

June 21 – Attempted assassination of Opposition leader Arthur Calwell outside Mosman Town Hall

June 23 – South Australian Liberal Senator Hannaford announces his opposition to conscription and Government Vietnam policy

June – Australian merchant ship Jeparit also bound for Vietnam with crew opposed to Government policy

June 27 – Harold Holt visits Lyndon Johnson in White House and utters the famous ‘parrot cry’ – ‘All the way with LBJ’

June 29 – Eight-hour ‘National Forum on Conscription’ at Monash University

June 29 – U.S begins bombing raids on Hanoi and Haiphong

July – Sydney University ALP Club steps up campaign to collect money to purchase medical supplies for victims of war in Vietnam (including medical aid to NLF)

July 4 – Nine young people arrested and charged with obstruction for protesting against bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong at U.S Consulate in Sydney

July 21 – NSW teacher Bill White refuses to accept his call-up for ‘National Service’ and faces possible two years detention in military prison

August – Vietnam Action Committee (VAC) in Sydney publishes American Atrocities in Vietnam by Eric Norden

September 1 – Vice Squad detectives confiscate copies of American Atrocities in Vietnam from Melbourne’s International Bookshop

September 5 – Twelve clergymen sell 300 copies of VAC pamphlet American Atrocities in Vietnam in fifteen minutes to lunch-time shoppers in Melbourne CBD

October 21 – U.S President Lyndon Johnson receives tumultuous welcome from people of Melbourne but his motorcade is held up by protestors in St. Kilda Road. Uniformed police and security personnel (Australian and U.S) launch unprovoked violent attack on demonstrators. Brothers David and John Langley burst red and green paint on Johnson’s car in South Yarra

October – 15,000 demonstrators jeer Johnson in Sydney. Some throw themselves on road in front of Presidential car. Demonstrations also in Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane (where demonstrators lie in front of motorcade in Queen Street)

October – Forty Victorian anti-conscription organisations launch ‘Vote No Conscription Campaign’ with aim of turning Federal election into referendum on the draft

November 4 – Monash University SRC prints 10,000 copies of pamphlet Facts About the anti-LBJ Demonstration

November 22 – Civilian police arrest Bill White at his home in Gladesville. White’s supporters in Melbourne stage all-night vigil at Harold Holt’s home in Toorak

November 26 – Federal election result shocks Australian peace movement. Liberal-Country Party coalition is returned with big majority

November 29 – Bill White sentenced to 21 days detention in Holsworthy Army detention centre

December – U.S combat troops in South Vietnam number 360,000

December – 81 Australians killed in Vietnam war so far


Yarra Federal Electorate Assembly ALP (front page of four pages)


Download the full timeline here, or click through below for a year-by-year timeline (with pictures) of this momentous period.


‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972
















Citation: Ken Mansell, ‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972, Labour History Melbourne (8 May 2020).

©Ken Mansell