Sherryl Garbutt grew up in a “fairly political” family, with discussions about the Vietnam War happening around the dining table. She was involved in protesting against the war when she went to Melbourne University, and later when she was teaching. Here she discusses occasion of LBJ visiting Melbourne.
Alex: Do you remember how you got involved in taking it beyond, I guess, discussions around the family table to actually being on the street and expressing your displeasure in that way? Was it just, you were part of a group and that’s what everyone was doing?
Sherryl: Well, it was certainly a bit like that. I mean, word just spread around the campus when LBJ did his drive-by. And we all got out there. I just listened and read and heard. I wasn’t in any leadership role at all. Nor were my friends. We were all pretty busy trying to pass our exams. I was on a studentship, and, you know, we needed to pass. Certainly when the opportunity came, we got out there. But others led the effort, and organised, and did it. But there were plenty of opportunities to participate, so that’s what I did.
Alex: So you were part of the group that, as you said, greeted LBJ as he came past?
Sherryl: Yes, yes.
Alex: That must have been very interesting.
Sherryl: Oh, well, it was, yeah. I just remember the huge hordes of people, and the car going – a big, black, shiny thing, I think, and going pretty fast – well, as fast as it possibly could. Dangerously fast, I suspect. So that was pretty amazing. There were kids climbing up on the gates, and I think there was a fence, I don’t know. Don’t remember. I remember a fence. But it was out on Grattan Street. So it was a big open space behind us. A great big garden or something. So it was perfect for people to gather. But he went, and I can remember Harold Holt saying, “All the way with LBJ,” which I just thought was outrageous. It’s just such a cringeworthy statement. Worthy on its own for a protest, let alone what was going on. And there were some people being outrageous, but, good on them.
If you know a Melbourne woman who was involved in protesting against the Vietnam War, please leave a comment!