Below is the full photo. Note the chains on their ankles.
In 1965 Merle Thornton, mother of Sigrid, and Rosalie Bognor chained their ankles to the brass bar rail in a Brisbane pub, the Regatta to be specific. You could argue that they should have focused on superannuation for women, equal pay, non dismissal from the public service once you married, but in their own way by their well attended by press publicity stunt, in time they really did bring change to women's rights in Australia.
Back when I was a yoof, pubs had public bars, saloon bars and ladies lounges. Public bars were for men of the tradie variety where you could probably only get beer of one variety from the tap and your glass would be refilled as a new glass never kept a good head on your beer. There may been a bottle of Corio whisky to use as a chaser for your beer. For the elderly gents, there was possibly a bottle of Remy Martin brandy behind the bar too. The floor was perhaps terrazzo and the walls tiled. The bar could be hosed out and it often needed to be.
For the business types, there was the saloon bar. They often had bar stools to sit upon and the more classy barmaids were rostered to serve in the saloon bar.
Then there was the ladies lounge. Men could not enter unless accompanied by a lady. Ladies were though of as pretty common if they went into the ladies lounge on their own. They must be serious drinkers, thought many. The ladies lounge was probably the arse end of the pub, small and with a tiny bar that was attended by staff from the other bars, if they had time. Ladies lounges were an advance on the shuttered window that ladies had previously received their drinks from.
Of course no decent woman would ever be seen in a pub, ladies lounge or not. They were not allowed in the public bar, and only just perhaps tolerated in the saloon bar if they were accompanied by a man.
Why weren't women allowed in the public bar? I very much doubt there was a law, but maybe it was. It was certainly a social convention. Now there are very few places where women are not allowed to go, apart from the very obvious ones, male toilets (breached), gay male sex on premises venues (breached) and the Melbourne Club.
Who do woman have to thank for breaking down the barrier of the taboo about women entering public bars? Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bognor, who walked into the public bar of hotel in Brisbane and chained themselves to the brass rail. I don't think women really wanted to enter public bars, but making the point that they should be able to if they wanted to was pretty valid in my book.
So ladies, next time you find yourself staggering out of public bar pissed as a parrot, thank Merle and Rosalie.
The Regatta was/is a gorgeous looking hotel. The one Bjelke-Petersen missed.