NMA collection record

ABC-TV outside broadcast van, 1956


This is a Morris Model FE Pye outside broadcast van used by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Television (ABC-TV) from 1956 to 1974. It is fitted-out as a complete mobile broadcasting studio for black and white television. It was first used to cover the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. This resource is supported by a Flash interactive tour of the van.

Educational value

In mid 1956, two Morris vans, packed with the latest valve-driven television broadcasting equipment, arrived in Australia to be used for launching the ABC's new television networks and to cover the Melbourne Olympic Games. This van arrived in Sydney with an identical van arriving in Melbourne. The Melbourne van covered the grand stadium; the Sydney van moved around from cycling to basketball, boxing, swimming, and the opening and closing ceremonies.

Most of the people who would assemble the vans, and work as the first production crew, had never even seen television. The majority of the crew came from the Post-Master General's office (PMG), the predecessor to Telstra, along with ex-services technicians who had radar and microwave experience. The cameras were huge and took up to an hour to warm up and required constant attention to keep broadcasting.

The outside broadcast van exemplifies the changing nature of broadcast technology and demonstrates the ABC's continuing commitment to the community it serves. This van also has direct links with many of Canberra's annual social events and public sites. When the van retired in 1974, it had provided service for the entire period of Australian black and white television and had been involved in 2300 outside telecasts. It is the only functioning outside broadcast van in the world of that era.

Since 1932, the ABC has maintained a national network of radio and television stations. In doing so it has facilitated communication between Australians in all parts of the country and has contributed to the development of nationhood. As a national institution, the ABC occupies a place in the social and cultural history of Australia and in the memory of many Australians.

© Education Services Australia Limited and the National Museum of Australia 2009 onwards (except where otherwise indicated).

You may view, display, print out and copy this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.