Sex and drugs and rock'n'roll — 1970s
Home free . . . Thousands of young Australians left city homes to live in dwellings like The Temple, a cosy, three-storey open-air-conditioned cottage in a forest near Kuranda. The Temple family in September 1975 were (back row from left) Frances Swan, 18, Neil Pike, 20, Nick, 26, reporter John Philip; (front row) Allan Dixon, 14, Colleen Colours, 19, with baby Jessie James; Tony Gomme, 29, and Sandi Moonbeam, 19. Picture: Brian Church
THE 60s finally arrived in Queensland in the 1970s. The disillusionment and boredom teenagers felt with their workaday lives and dead-end jobs in the 50s crystallised into the hippie movement of the 70s.
Teenagers no longer wanted to follow the example of their parents and many began leaving school to "find themselves", rather than find a job.
Queensland, particularly the north — with its laid-back lifestyle, breathtaking natural beauty and large tracts of uninhabited land — was mecca to the flower children. Parents fretted as their sensibly named progeny tagged themselves Waterfall, Lilypad and Moonbeam and went off in search of Utopia.
They came from all around Australia to follow the hippie-trail north — from Byron Bay, through the Sunshine Coast hinterland and up to Cairns. From there they ventured to Kuranda and Cedar Bay. By 1975 about 6000 young Australians were living in communes.
A threat more real than rock'n'roll had emerged: drugs.
LSD and marijuana were the drugs of choice, supplemented with products from nature's own medicine cabinet, including magic mushrooms and the highly toxic hallucinogen datura plant, or angel's trumpet. As well as experimenting with different lifestyles, teenagers were experimenting with altered states of consciousness.
On the Atherton Tablelands near Kuranda was a commune known as Rosebud Farm. The property was bought in 1971 by idealistic young Harvard dropout Rich Trapnell, who invited a handful of friends to come join him in a self-sufficient life. Those who came ranged in age from 16-20.
They grew their own fruit and vegetables, listened to music and experimented with drugs and an unconventional lifestyle.
Today, the farm is still there and so is Trapnell. But the young hippie has turned into a 51-year-old businessman who enjoys a few rounds of golf between running the thriving palm and cycad nursery that was Rosebud Farm.
And whatever happened to the 15m concrete-hulled boat the commune was building to sail around the world?
Apparently it was launched in 1978 but it only ever sailed as far as Bloomfield, where commune member Kim Haskell decided to scrap it and build a nicer, steel-hulled ship which now forms the centrepiece of a successful charter business.
"We play golf now," Rich Trapnell says of himself and Haskell. "Funny isn't it? We still have quite strong feelings about the way the world could have been or should have been."
Trapnell says Rosebud and other communes began to peter out around 1978, when many found they could not break their basic human programming to find a mate for life and build a home for their family.
"People started leaving because only two people owned the land and once there were couples forming, particularly if they had children, they wanted security . . . They went back to living the way they were brought up."
But cracks had started to show earlier, thanks to the heavy-handed tactics of the Bjelke-Petersen state government.
They expected a massive drugs haul and perhaps an accused murderer. They found about 30 near-naked hippies and few drugs.
One humid morning in August 1976, a land, air and sea assault was launched on the peaceful hippies of Cedar Bay, about 130km north of Cairns. The government had heard tales of drug production and responded with armed troops and police.
Police action . . . Cedar Bay hippies survey the ruin of their home after it was torched by Queensland police in 1978.
Some hit the beach in boats launched from a naval attack boat; others dropped in by copter or trudged in through thick rainforest.
They expected a massive drugs haul and perhaps an accused murderer rumoured to be hiding there. They found about 30 near-naked hippies and few drugs — the stiffest fine to emerge was a $500 bond for possession of marijuana..
Police set about destroying the camp, pouring kerosene over makeshift humpies and setting them alight, telling residents it was for their own good.
Walking through the bush in his safari suit, O'Gorman encountered several naked women and eventually stripped to his underpants.
Civil liberties lawyer Terry O'Gorman, who was just beginning his career, was one of the first to trudge into the community to offer legal support to the bewildered hippies — pursuing charges of wilful destruction against police.
Walking through the bush in his safari suit he encountered several naked women and eventually stripped to his underpants during his time at Cedar Bay as a concession to his clients. "It's really the only time I've every conducted interviews like that," he later told media. You would hope so, really.
While some teenagers were espousing peace, love and understanding, another group of teenagers in Brisbane was trying to give punk a bad name.
Radio station 4ZZZ in 1975 gave these youth a voice and gave local punk bands an outlet.
Many in Brisbane at the time still claim it was this "big country town" that gave birth to punk; not London. They point to local band The Saints' anthem (I'm) Stranded which screamed to the top of the UK charts before most people had heard of the Sex Pistols.
At the close of the 70s, police raided a 4ZZZ punk concert in what became known as the Caxton St Riot. Teenagers spoke of undercover officers trying to infiltrate the punk crowd in loud Hawaiian shirts. Subtle.
By the late 70s the idealism was beginning to give way to an era of new conservatism as hippies decided there was quite a lot of fun to be had in the material world. They yielded to a generation of teenyboppers who didn't take life quite so seriously.