The Beatles arrive in Australia

6.00am, Thursday 11 June 1964 (49 years ago)

The Beatles flew from Hong Kong to Sydney, stopping en route in Darwin to allow their aeroplane to refuel. Although it was an unscheduled stop, 400 fans were waiting as they landed in Darwin at 2.35am.

A crowd of 2,000 greeted them at Sydney’s Mascot International Airport. Although it was cold and raining heavily, they were paraded for the crowd on the back of an open-top truck.

When we arrived in Sydney it was pissing down with rain. We got off the plane and they put The Beatles on the back of a flat-back truck so the crowd could see them. They were carrying umbrellas and wearing the capes made in Hong Kong. The driver was doing one mile an hour, and John kept leaning over and saying, ‘Faster, faster!’ but he wouldn’t go any faster. I was saying, ‘Go faster – it’s pouring down,’ and he said, ‘These kids have been waiting here for twenty-four hours to see these guys.’

Nothing was going to make this big Australian trucker go any faster. By the time they got to the hotel everybody was blue because the dye in the capes had run and soaked right through; they all looked like old Celtic warriors covered in blue dye.

Neil Aspinall
Anthology

Alarmingly, a woman ran to the truck and threw her six-year-old mentally-handicapped child at The Beatles, shouting, “Catch him, Paul,” in the hope that The Beatles could provide a cure. Fortunately, McCartney did catch the terrified boy, who was reunited with his mother as soon as the truck could be stopped.

Following the airport parade The Beatles went through customs and immigrations procedures, and spoke to the press.

The group’s hotel was in Potts Point, Sydney. Their luggage arrived later but John Lennon and Paul McCartney had spare clothes to change into. George Harrison waved to fans from the balcony dressed in just a bath towel.

I used to hate waving from balconies. ‘Wave,’ they’d say. ‘You’ve got to go and wave.’ Derek used to wave for me out of hotel windows.
George Harrison
Anthology

Although they were unable to leave their hotel, in the evening The Beatles gave a series of interviews, press conferences and photography sessions, and met a number of concert promoters and local dignitaries.

Also on this day, Ringo Starr was discharged from University College Hospital, London, allowing him to fly to Australia to rejoin the group.

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