November 21, 2021 — The Mordialloc Freeway opens

It took decades, but the dream of building a freeway from Dingley to the furthest reaches of the Mornington Peninsula was finally completed with the opening of the final, and northernmost section of the freeway in 2021 – a month short of 50 years since the opening of the earliest section in December of 1971. Finally, the whole Peninsula was connected by a single freeway – although there were, in point of fact, several better roadworks in the nation – quicker, cheaper or delivering better outcomes.

The newly opened freeway was almost immediately filled with traffic, and calls for its widening began shortly thereafter.

September 11, 2000 — The S11 protests take place in Melbourne, Australia

In September 2000, the World Economic Forum met at the Crown Casino complex in Melbourne, Australia. Over three days, they discussed matters of great importance that would affect the lives of millions of people the world over.

Meanwhile, outside, one of the largest assemblages of protestors ever seen in Australia gathered and tried to make cogent points about the millions of lives that would be affected by the WEF’s decisions, which might not be entirely pleased by the results of them. In this goal, they were thwarted by that stalwart upholder of the privileges of the rich, the Victorian Police Force. Opportunities to harass people who upset their lords and masters don’t come along every day, after all.

Of course, unlike previous efforts by VicPol, this one was widely filmed and photographed, with many of the images captured directly contradicting the statements by the police regarding their violations of their own procedures, of the civil rights of the protestors, and oh yeah, of a little thing called The Law (you know, the thing the police swear an oath to uphold).

March 28, 1999 — Shane Crawford plays his first game as Captain of Hawthorn

Shane Crawford played his first senior game for Hawthorn in 1993, and his talent saw him reach the exalted post of team captain on his seventh season with the club. That same year, he won the Brownlow Medal, the Leigh Matthews Trophy, the Peter Crimmins Trophy, and the Hawthorn Club Best and Fairest awards. He was also selected for the All-Australian team that year. Sadly, an injury led to him relinquishing the captaincy after the 2004 season.

After his recovery, he returned to continue his playing career with Hawthorn, and his 305th and last game was the 2008 Grand Final, in which Hawthorn scored an upset victory over the heavily favoured Geelong team. He was offered another season, but declined it, stating that he preferred to go out on a high. After his retirement from playing, he became a media personality in Australia. In 2012, he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

December 27, 1996 — Glenn McGrath bowls 5 for 50

The Australian test cricket team’s chances were looking good at the end of day two of the 1996 Boxing Day Test. The West Indian team was 9 for 233, which put them ahead of Australia’s first innings total of 219 – but not far, and with only one wicket in hand, everyone knew that they wouldn’t last long into the third day.

Glenn McGrath was a big part of that. Over the first two days of the test, he’d bowled 5 for 50, conceding the lowest average runs per over of any Australian bowler, at 1.66. (Although this low rate was equalled by Gillepsie, he bowled only 3 overs – McGrath bowled 30.) And he’d managed 11 maiden overs in that time.

Sure enough, the last West Indian wicket of the first innings fell early on the third day of the test – followed by every single Australian wicket. The West Indians were back at bat that afternoon, and handily defeated the Australians with two days to spare.

December 10, 1992 — Paul Keating makes the “Redfern” speech

Written either by Don Watson (Keating’s chief speechwriter) or Keating himself – the two disagree on this point – there is no doubting that the Redfern Speech of 1992 was one of the most significant events of Paul Keating’s term as Prime Minister of Australia. In it, Keating as head of state of Australia, for the first time acknowledged the responsibility of European invaders for the injustices committed – both in the past and ongoing – against the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

It fell a ways short of being an apology – that would come later – but it was a stunning statement of responsibility for a nation that has usually preferred (as the speech itself pointed out) to blame the native victims of these injustices for causing them. It was, of course, immensely controversial to all the people you would expect, and common sense to everyone else.

Links to the text of the speech, plus sound and video recordings of it, can be found here.

September 26, 1988 — TISM release “Great Truckin’ Songs of Renaissance”

In 1988, the anonymous masked men who comprise TISM a.k.a. This Is Serious Mum released their first album, “Great Truckin’ Songs of the Renaissance” (actually a double album, although a single CD). This 27 track magnum opus featured a mixture of songs, snatches of interviews, random strangeness, and the poetic ranting that is “Morrison Hostel”.

It reached #48 on the Australian charts, and failed to chart anywhere else. There are any number of reasons why this occurred, but the unavailability of the album on any basis other than import probably had a little to do with it.

September 28, 1985 — Essendon defeats Hawthorn in the VFL Grand Final

As if they were only warming up the previous year, Essendon were never in doubt all day in the 1985 VFL Grand Final. Playing Hawthorn for the third successive year, on this day, Essendon started off strong and kept going that way. They led at the end of every quarter, finally recording a winning margin of 78 points (or 13 goals).

This game was also notable for several other reasons – it was the 332nd and final game of Hawthorn captain ‘Lethal’ Leigh Matthews, widely regarding as one the greatest players in the history of the game; Essendon won back to back premierships for the fourth time in the club’s history; and Dermott Brereton of Hawthorn achieved two records for a Grand Final player: most goals kicked by a player on the losing team (8), and most times reported during a Grand Final (3).

September 29, 1984 — Essendon defeats Hawthorn in the VFL Grand Final

Favoured going into the game, Essendon played hard all day, but nonetheless trailed Hawthorn going into the game’s final quarter. But in that last quarter, they turned it all around, kicking 11 goals and 6 points (a record score for the last quarter of any VFL/AFL Grand Final), and more than doubling their score for the rest of the match.

They romped home at the game’s conclusion, defeating Hawthorn by four goals and winning Essendon’s 13th Premiership. It was particularly satisfying victory for Essendon’s fans – in the previous year’s Grand Final, the same two teams had fought, but the result had been very different, with Hawthorn winning by 83 points on that occasion.

February 19, 1980 — Bon Scott dies

The legendary lead singer of AC/DC from 1973 to 1980, Ronald Belford ‘Bon’ Scott was one of Australia’s greatest ever larrikins. His vocal style was heavily inspired by Little Richard, albeit with more of a heavy metal feel. Scott also co-wrote most of the songs on the band’s first seven album with the Young brothers, Malcolm and Angus (who were also members of the band).

Scott died when he passed out after a night of heavy drinking, and was left to sleep it off in a friend’s car. His death was ruled to have been caused by acute alcohol poisoning. His body was embalmed, and sent home to his family in Fremantle, where he was cremated and buried in the family plot. After Scott’s death, the other members of AC/DC considered quitting. Eventually, they decided that Scott would have wanted them to continue and with the encouragement of Bon’s family, the band hired Brian Johnson as the new vocalist. Five months after Scott’s death, AC/DC finished the work they began with Scott and released their next album, “Back in Black” as a tribute to him with two tracks from the album, “Hells Bells” and “Back in Black”, dedicated to his memory. It is now the fourth best-selling album in history.

May 1979 — The Boys Next Door release “Shivers”

It’s a good thing that Nick Cave decided that suicide really didn’t suit his style. From relatively inauspicious beginnings, the members of the Boys Next Door would form the nucleus of the Birthday Party, Nick Cave’s first truly great band, who would in turn pave the way for the Bad Seeds. Cave’s career would span decades, and Cave himself would mature into one of Australian music’s elder statesman, never losing the essential qualities that make him special.

“Shivers” remains a perennial favourite of fans of Australian goth and alternative music, and if JJJ hadn’t rejigged the Hot 100’s rules to make it a year by year thing, it would still be placing respectably in it each January.