back­story 1966

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - TIME OUT - MYLES SIN­NA­MON

At about 9.15pm on Oc­to­ber 22, 1966, Air Force One touched down at Bris­bane air­port to a rap­tur­ous wel­come from thou­sands of Queens­lan­ders. Lyn­don Baines John­son was the first serv­ing Amer­i­can pres­i­dent to travel to Aus­tralia, his visit at the in­vi­ta­tion of prime min­is­ter Harold Holt sym­bol­is­ing the strength­en­ing of ties be­tween the two coun­tries and Aus­tralia’s on­go­ing com­mit­ment to the war in Viet­nam.

More than 175,000 peo­ple re­port­edly lined the pres­i­dent’s mo­tor­cade route to Len­nons Ho­tel in the city. It was slow go­ing as John­son ( pic­tured ) stopped nine times to greet the crowd. More than two hours af­ter touch­ing down, LBJ at last reached the ho­tel, where Se­cret Ser­vice agents, body­guards and po­lice linked arms to ma­noeu­vre him away from the crowd and into the lobby. Once in­side, the un­pre­dictable pres­i­dent went back out­side to in­ter­act with the crowd, us­ing the PA sys­tem in his limou­sine to thank them all. A Se­cret Ser­vice agent com­mented to one re­porter: “I thought you Aussies were a dour, con­ser­va­tive lot.”

Some were less en­thu­si­as­tic about the US pres­i­dent’s visit to Bris­bane. The Sun­day Mail re­ported an anti-Viet­nam War rally staged in King Ge­orge Square prior to the pres­i­dent’s ar­rival. The Courier-Mail re­ported that six demon­stra­tors were later ar­rested near Len­nons Ho­tel for dis­or­derly con­duct.

Queens­land’s gift to the pres­i­dent and Texan cat­tle rancher, per­son­ally cho­sen by Queens­land’s premier Frank Nicklin, was a 213cm stock­whip hand-made from kan­ga­roo hide, a bri­dle and a pair of spurs. LBJ’s next stop was Townsville, where some 40,000 cit­i­zens turned out to wel­come him.

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