1. Sydney Culture Walks app
  2. 100 Voices - 1978 Mardi Gras: It was a riot
  3. The first Mardi Gras: 40 years on
  4. PridePOD




Sydney Culture Walks app

A once hidden community bursts into vibrant and visible life.


PHG have collaborated with City of Sydney to develop a new LGBTIQ history walk for their free Sydney Culture Walks app. A walk along Oxford Street that takes in the history of drag shows, discos, protests, parties and even a queer bushranger.


The Golden Mile

Walk through a rich history of parties and protests, synonymous with LGBTIQ life in Sydney.

This self-guided walking tour of Oxford Street has been developed in partnership with Pride History Group.

Archivist, historian and activist Robert French has been leading LGBTIQ history walks in Sydney for nearly 30 years and we are grateful for his advice and guidance in the development of this tour.

The Pride History Group has a collection of over 100 oral history interviews that bear witness to the queering of Sydney. An overview is available online at 100 Voices.

To download the app via iTunes and Google Play, please visit Sydney Culture Walks app



 1978 Mardi Gras: It was a riot


The first Mardi Gras (24th June 1978) was an attempt to get the bar goers involved in an open display of homosexuality and ended in a riot with police.

"The 78ers" are pushed down Oxford Street by police. The lead sound truck is taken by police and the parade spontaneously moves to Kings Cross. The crowd grows to 2000 and subsequently 53 are arrested, some seriously beaten by police.

People involved with the next few parades feared impending police arrests but eventually changing social attitudes saw the mardi gras increasingly embraced by the wider population. Today it is a hugely popular display of LGBTIQ identity and struggle.

Activists dreamed up the idea of a street party in Oxford Street to engage “apolitical” gays in the bars. Police violence on the night to break up the street party, changed the history of Sydney’s lesbian and gay community.

Ron Austin and Peter Murphy explain the logic of a “street party”. 

Diane Minnis gives some background to the first Mardi Gras.

Robyn Plaister describes the events at College (sic “Collins”) Street.

Peter Murphy and Terry Batterham relate what happened after this.

Stuart Round talks about Darlinghurst Road.

John Greenway tells what happened to the unbanked cash from CAMP, and Chris Pearce describes the night in the cells.

Terry Goulden assesses the fallout.


Is this you Miss Plaister? © Daily Telegraph Source: from Digby Duncan’s Scrapbook, Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

The first Mardi Gras: 40 years on

Forty years on, we’re still arguing about what happened at the first Mardi Gras. Who was there and what were they trying to do? Why did 53 of them end up in the Darlo clink? Why do they still expect apologies?

John Witte and Gavin Harris claim that when the cops confiscated their flat back, the revelers repeated defied their directions. Then when Inspector Millar told his men that the revelers were taking part in an unauthorised procession, the heavy-handed cops went for it.

Read the evidence and have your say.



Gavin Harris and John Witte have collaborated on a number of research projects for the 40th anniversary of the first mardi gras parade including research for the ABC telemovie, "Riot". This Q & A format we thought would be a good introduction to the main topics discussed when people talk about the first parade.

We will also be using the KXACF web site to publish a more comprehensive story of the night sometime in February 2018. This article originally appeared at https://kxacf.org.au/the-first-mardi-gras-40-years-on/



ABC TV - Telemovie "Riot" Trailer - February 25

Inspired by actual events during Australia’s 1970s Gay Rights Movement, Riot explores the origins of the activism that led to the world's first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. #RiotABC


Listen to our series of history podcasts. Hear from historians and members of our community describe what it was like to socialise in the 1950s and 60s, the first Gay Mardi Gras in 1978, and much more. 

These first hand accounts promise to bring Sydney’s vibrant LGBTIQ history alive for younger generations.

Visit: pridePOD on SoundCloud

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Meetings are held every third Monday, each month, at 6.30pm.

Members and visitors are invited to our meetings at St Helens Community Centre, 184 Glebe Point Road, Glebe (yellow meeting rooms next to Benledi)

Pride History is a volunteer community group dedicated to researching, writing about and recording memories of Sydney's LGBTI history.

We welcome participation from individuals wishing to tell their story.

If you would like to be involved and help us to record and preserve Sydney's LGBTI histories, please contact us.


Meetings are held every third Monday, each month, at 6.30pm.

Members and visitors are invited to our meetings at St Helens Community Centre, 184 Glebe Point Road, Glebe (yellow meeting rooms next to Benledi)

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