The day after they landed on Australian soil, The Beatles flew from Sydney to Adelaide in a chartered Ansett ANA jet, arriving at 11.57am.
An estimated 200,000 people lined the 10-mile route between Adelaide Airport and the city centre in the hope of seeing The Beatles’ motorcade. More than 30,000 surrounded the Town Hall, where they met the city’s mayor, James Campbell Irwin, along with council members and their families.
The Beatles were given toy koala bears. John Lennon told the reception, “Wherever we go, anywhere in the world, this reception which Adelaide has given us will stick in our memories.”
The group was shadowed by local DJ Bob Francis from 5DN, who interviewed them in a range of locations including the Town Hall balcony. Francis also booked the suite next to theirs at the Southern Australia Hotel, from where he gave listeners hourly updates.
Three hundred thousand people welcomed us to Adelaide. It was like a heroes’ welcome. George waved too. That was the kind of place where we would go to the town hall and they would all be there in the centre of the city. If it had happened suddenly, overnight, it might have gone to our heads; but we had come up bit by bit, so it didn’t (not too much). We were just very pleased that everyone had turned out.
We were still close enough to our Liverpool roots to know how it would feel, and what it would mean, if we had showed up in the middle of town to see a group; so we could feel it in their spirit. I think we quite enjoyed it all. It can get a bit wearing, but it certainly wasn’t then.
We came in from the airport – it was the same in Liverpool for the première of a A Hard Day’s Night, with the whole city centre full of people – and the crowds were lining the route and we were giving them the thumbs up. And then we went to the Adelaide town hall with the Lord Mayor there, and gave the thumbs up again. In Liverpool it was OK, because everyone understands the thumbs up – but in Australia it’s a dirty sign.
Meanwhile, Ringo Starr, who had missed the early part of the tour due to illness, flew to Australia via San Francisco, Honolulu and Fiji, accompanied by Brian Epstein. Starr left his passport in London, delaying the first flight of the journey, but was eventually allowed to board the aeroplane without it.
The passport was eventually found and sent to London Airport, from where it was sent to San Francisco and reunited with its owner during the drummer’s stopover on 13 June.
Over 50,000 applications had been made for tickets to see The Beatles in Adelaide’s Centennial Hall, which had just 3,000 seats. The group played two sets on this day, and two more on the following day.
The compère was Alan Field, and the support acts were Sounds Incorporated, Johnny Devlin, Johnny Chester and The Phantoms.
The Beatles performed the same 10 songs at all their Adelaide shows: I Saw Her Standing There, I Want To Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, She Loves You, Till There Was You, Roll Over Beethoven, Can’t Buy Me Love, This Boy, Twist And Shout and Long Tall Sally.
Brian Epstein sold the rights for one of the 12 June shows to be recorded for radio broadcast. It was titled Beatles Show and was transmitted on 15 June, with sponsorship from Surf detergent.
That evening a society event was held in their honour in the Adelaide Hills, although The Beatles and Jimmie Nicol declined to attend. Instead they held a private party in their hotel suite.
Demolition of the Centennial Hall, a 1930s Art Deco building, began on 18 July 2007. In its place was built the Adelaide Showgrounds, a multi-purpose exhibition hall.